Simotas Battles Increased Air Traffic

Calls on DOT, FAA, and Port Authority to address toll taken on residents’ quality of life by sudden upsurge in air noise and pollution
November 7, 2012

ASTORIA, N.Y. – Maintaining the goal of insuring the quality of life in Astoria, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas wrote to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority) requesting that they examine and address the sudden increase in air traffic that has subjected residents of Northwest Queens, New York to an upsurge in air noise and pollution. Simotas represents the 36th New York State Assembly District of Queens, which encompasses Astoria, East Elmhurst, and a portion of Long Island City.

“Several constituents have reached out to me to voice concerns about the aircraft noise and air pollution problem in residential neighborhoods, citing that the frequency and volume of overhead flights have increased in recent months,” Simotas said. “Aside from being unable to open their windows due to the air noise and pollution, the air traffic has impeded some residents’ sleeping patterns while also giving cause for concern about fume smells from overhead aircrafts.”

The source of the problem stems from the FAA’s flight departure testing – evaluating the impact of the recently implemented New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Airspace Redesign in tandem with the new NextGen satellite technology – at the nearby Runway 13 based in LaGuardia Airport. Simotas explained that “the increased air traffic directly accounted for detrimental causes of noise on educational development, air emissions on health, as well as adverse effects on ground safety and property values.”

Simotas commended the FAA and the Port Authority for developing a unified, streamlined complaint system; however, she expressed concern that the agencies must do more to address the aforesaid complaints in a timely manner, especially in light of overpowering evidence that noise detrimentally affects mental and physical health and well-being – in particular on children’s cognitive, language, and learning abilities. “Our residents’ quality of life is contingent upon adequate attention being placed on noise-sensitive land uses beneath the prescribed flight channels, such as education and healthcare facilities,” Simotas stated.