Sunday, April 21, 2024

Cambridge has an opportunity to take action and significantly improve the quality of life for residents in North and West Cambridge.

In 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration changed the flight paths for departures at Logan Airport’s Runway 33L, resulting in two concentrated flight paths directly over our North and West Cambridge neighborhoods. This change was part of the agency’s implementation of GPS-based aRea NAVigation flight procedures, known as RNAV.

Before RNAV, flights were dispersed over a large area of Cambridge, with about 40 percent of residents experiencing some airplane noise. Now, just 10 percent of residents experience all the concentrated noise and disruption – shouldering the aircraft noise and disruption burden of the entire city.

There are sometimes 300 or more flights in a single day, spaced a minute and a half apart, for hours and oftentimes for days on end, starting before 6 a.m. and continuing well after midnight, following the same path over and over and over again. The noise is detrimental to our health and well-being and has a significant negative impact on the quality of life in Cambridge. The planes disrupt our sleep, conversations and work, limit interactions with neighbors and reduce the use of our yards.

Cambridge and other communities affected by noise from Runway 33L flight departures have been asked by Massport and the FAA to provide feedback on proposed flight dispersion concepts developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s International Center for Air Transportation.

This RNAV study proposes several dispersion concepts to decrease the concentration of flights. Flight dispersion over a larger geographical area is a fair and equitable approach to sharing the burden of the growing number of Runway 33L departures.

Finding a solution to recommend requires the cooperation from residents and officials of all affected 33L communities. We request that our local officials, state legislators and the Massport Community Advisory Committee continue to conduct a transparent public process and reach a consensus position on increased 33L flight dispersion.

We are thankful to Jan Devereux and Quinton Zondervan, the co-chairs of the City Council’s Health and Environment Committee, for organizing a public meeting on this issue for at 6 p.m. Oct. 15, 2019 at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. We look forward to working towards a solution that more fairly shares the flight noise burden across our communities, and we invite all Cambridge residents to voice their concerns to city officials.

Kent Johnson, Robert O’Neil, Ann Sweeney and Martha Zirbel, residents of North and West Cambridge