New plan to quiet noise from F-35s near Burlington airport

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 5:49 PM EDT
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WINOOSKI, Vt. (WCAX) - A new sound mitigation program to benefit those near the Burlington International Airport was announced on Thursday. It is a collaborative effort between multiple groups hoping to be energy efficient and help with sound mitigation.

Local city leaders and representatives announced money to help the more than 2,600 homes near the airport at a news briefing.

The homes are within a sound map with contour lines of 65-plus decibels. And that has recently gotten louder because of the arrival of the F-35 jets.

“Over time, everybody that can benefit from it will benefit from it and we will give everything we can to it,” said Gene Richards, the director of aviation at the Burlington International Airport.

“We are now on a path that should allow thousands of homes in Winooski, South Burlington and Burlington to become quieter, more energy-efficient in the years to come,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington.

The goal is to be more energy efficient with the money coming from Vermont Gas to also help weatherize and soundproof the homes.

“This innovative approach demonstrates the value of collaboration and partnership and creative problem-solving,” said Neale Lunderville, the president and CEO of Vermont Gas.

The pilot program has Vermont Gas providing a $550,000 local match. This closes the burden of the financial gap and is the 10% needed to go along with $4.5 million in federal funds for soundproofing without impacting the general funds.

“By pairing up weatherization and soundproofing, we are helping our customers,” Lunderville said.

In 2021, 10-20 homes will be part of the pilot program, with a goal to have 50 homes a year as a part of the sound mitigation starting in 2022. The goal is to serve all the houses that qualify for mitigation from the sound map.

“Each of these projects will be different. They will be unique and we are excited to tackle each of those challenges as they come,” Lunderville said.

The plan is to have the airport’s sound consultant, the Jones Payne Group, roll out the sound program.

“The switch to sound insulation is going to make a huge difference, I think, for the neighborhood and for the area,” said Diane Carter, the project manager for Jones Payne.

But those against the F-35 jets say it’s not enough.

“The home insulation is completely ineffective if you are outdoors or your windows are open,” said James Leas, who opposes the F-35s.

This still has to officially be approved by the city. It is expected to be approved and then work will start in 2021.

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