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Oakland plans $2 to $3 million sound insulation program

17 Jul 2000

Oakland International Airport and 100 city of Alameda homeowners today and Tuesday are finalizing the documents that will begin the first phase of the airport's $2 to $3 million sound insulation program.

Approximately 586 townhouses and 32 single-family homes on Alameda's Bay Farm Island are eligible to participate in this voluntary program.

The sound insulation program is a multi-phase program that will replace all windows and sliding glass doors with special acoustical, double-pane units; provide weather-stripping for exterior doors and replace hollow core doors; modify fireplace openings and dampers; and provide fresh air makeup to the existing heating system. In exchange for these home improvements, homeowners are required to sign a limited noise easement and construction agreement. All construction materials comply with each homeowner's association requirements.

Last fall, four homeowners participated in a pilot sound insulation program to evaluate the effectiveness of the insulation with the goal to bring the homes into compliance with the State law's requirement for interior noise levels of 45 decibels Community Noise Equivalent Level (CNEL) or less. The pilot program was effective in reducing the interior noise levels of the homes by 5.5 decibels.

"The insulation improvements to the homes in the pilot program met the expectations of the homeowners and the airport," said Carole Wedl, noise management officer for Oakland International Airport. "The homeowners tell us there is a noticeable difference in their comfort and quality of life."

The $2 to $3 million program will be funded through passenger facility charges (PFCs), a user fee collected by the airlines on behalf of the U. S. government on every enplaning passenger at Oakland International Airport. The PFC collected at Oakland International is $3 per enplaned passenger. This project is one of many approved for PFC funding by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Actual construction on the homes participating in the first phase of the program begins later this year with construction taking about two weeks per home. The six-phase program is expected to take six years to complete, with approximately 100 homes participating in each phase. Eligible homes are accepted into the program on a "first come, first served" basis.

The eligibility area, approved by the FAA, is based on the 65-decibel CNEL contour for Oakland International Airport for calendar year 1995. The area encompasses residences located south of Fir and Oleander Avenues. Residences in that area built after 1976 are not eligible for the program because of existing avigation easement agreements.

"The airport monitors daily the exterior noise levels in the communities neighboring the airport," added Wedl. "While the contour has decreased annually as aircraft have gotten quieter, we felt it was vital to our relationship with the community to soundproof these homes."

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