Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Thursday, August 27, 2009
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FAA to soundproof homes

Kay Miller can finally live in the same peace and quiet as her neighbors.

The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized a $2.5 million grant to soundproof 38 airport-area homes, whose owners have fought a years-long battle for the same funding their neighbors received.

The FAA will spend between $35,000 and $75,000 on the New Town homes, on Linda and Flagler avenues. The work, a seven-month project expected to begin in January, will include installing new doors, windows, storm shutters and in some cases air conditioning units, Miller said.

The Linda Lane resident described the noise from air traffic at Key West International Airport as "substantial."

"The runway is just past my home," Miller said. "Planes are descending just past my home. ... It interrupts my telephone conversations or when I am watching television or listening to music."

The FAA granted the funding after U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the airport staff joined Miller and fellow members of a grass-roots committee to lobby for it, armed with a URS Corp. study that showed their homes were subjected to jet noise reaching 65 decibels, the level at which soundproofing is required.

Since 2000, the FAA has spent $22.5 million -- money from airline ticket fees -- soundproofing 300 airport-area homes in phases, starting with those closest to the airport, Monroe County Airports Director Peter Horton said.

Miller's neighborhood was earmarked to eventually receive money, but the FAA pulled the plug in 2005 when federal legislators approved changes to maps showing the affected areas. Removing homes on Linda and Flagler avenues caused an outcry among the homeowners.

"I am pleased that the FAA has awarded this grant to the Key West Airport so they can begin to pay for the noise insulation for 38 homeowners living around the airport," Ros-Lehtinen said in a prepared statement. "After waiting nearly nine years for this project to begin, these homeowners will soon have the peace and quiet that all homeowners are entitled to have. Director Horton and his staff will work tirelessly to complete this long awaited and necessary project."

Soundproofing is a comfort Miller's neighbors Gwen and Larry Rodriguez know very well. Theirs was one of the first homes soundproofed nearly nine years ago. The FAA spent about $70,000 for new windows and doors and an air conditioning unit for their home on Airport Boulevard, the closest street to the airport.

"The noise has been reduced tremendously," Gwen Rodriguez said. "You now can have a telephone conversation without having to stop when a plane is landing or taking off. ... At one point, one of our windows cracked from an airplane."

tohara@keysnews.com

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