Staff Editorial: Study on airplane noise may yield valuable results

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Communities near the Potomac River have complained about increased air traffic over residential homes. (Brian Kapur/The Current/September 2016)

While hearing some airplanes flying overhead has long been one of the costs associated with living near the Potomac River in parts of Northwest, wider swaths of the District have been feeling more effects from Reagan National Airport in the past couple of years. Concerned citizens have been working tirelessly with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and have even filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration for approving a new flight path over D.C. neighborhoods without significant environmental review or community consultation.

Until now, much of this costly fight has been shouldered by ordinary citizens donating time, money or both to learn about airplane noise and push for a better solution. Now, the D.C. Department of Energy & Environment has hired an expert consultant, Freytag & Associates, to study local impacts from the existing airplane noise and to recommend solutions to federal aviation officials. Community activists are also hopeful that this study will provide invaluable data to aid them in their own efforts.

Excessive noise understandably diminishes residents’ ability to peacefully enjoy their homes.

The $300,000 allocation for the airplane noise study stemmed from a request last year by Ward 3 D.C. Council member Mary Cheh, whose constituents in Foxhall and the Palisades are among those affected by Reagan National airplane noise; significant complaints have also emerged from Foggy Bottom, Georgetown and Burleith in Ward 2.

We’re glad to see D.C. officials taking this situation seriously. Excessive noise understandably diminishes residents’ ability to peacefully enjoy their homes, and many of the most affected neighborhoods are desirable in large part due to their peaceful character. In addition to impacts on residents’ sleep, health and general quality of life, we worry about an impact to property values that would, in turn, reduce the District’s tax base. We hope that a positive outcome results from this important study.