Many of our neighborhoods have been suffering from the noise caused by increased air traffic flying over our City. Since his first election, Bill has recognized the impact of Logan Airport on Somerville and has been a leader in the City’s efforts to deal with Massport and Logan. In 1999, as Chair of the Committee on Housing and Community Development, Bill held a public hearing on the proposed runway expansion at Logan, with representatives of the FAA and Massport in attendance. Because this expansion was projected to increase noise from air traffic over the City of Somerville, Bill led the opposition at the Board of Aldermen to expansion. White helped galvanize Somerville residents to appear and voice their concerns at the public hearing.
When Massport decided to move forward with the expansion, Bill urged the City to join with other communities and file a lawsuit to stop it. Unfortunately for Somerville, the lawsuit was unsuccessful and the runway expansion went forward. Now, Somerville has seen a substantial increase in air traffic and the quality of life of many residents has been seriously impacted. Bill, however, hasn’t given up. Bill submitted Orders that the Board of Aldermen adopted, asking the FAA to appear before the Board of Aldermen and include Somerville in an ongoing study evaluating the impacts that runway expansion had on surrounding communities.
In addition to noise impacts, there are also concerns about physical health impacts from Logan air traffic. The Public Health Department is currently evaluating incidents of cancer and other illnesses in the communities over which air traffic from Logan Airport flies. Somerville’s children suffer from high rates of asthma and other respiratory diseases. Many attribute these illnesses to pollution generated by Route 93 and the commuter rail lines through Somerville. Because of the additional risks posed by pollution generated by air traffic, especially to our children, while he served as Chair of the Committee on Public Health and Public Safety, Bill held meetings with Somerville officials to insure that the City participates in the study and Bill’s Committee is monitoring the study’s progress.
Just recently Bill received the unanimous approval of the Board to send a letter to the Administrator of the FAA in which he detailed the impacts of noise on the residents of the City of Somerville and asked for FAA intervention. Given the fact that the FAA has not shown any interest in assisting cities such as Somerville that are impacted by Logan, he also is working with Somerville residents and other elected officials on a strategy to escalate this issue.