Recently we read three guest opinions highlighting the economic benefits of F-35 basing in Boise.
In the Jan. 25 oirport open house, members of Idaho Air National Guard and the Boise Airport staff were optimistic about using noise mitigation measures approved by the FAA in conjunction with possible future F-35 operations in Boise.
When studying airport noise mitigation, I learned about an economic theory known as “The Tragedy of the Commons” that applies to many facets of Boise’s fast growth.
Wikipedia describes “The Tragedy of the Commons” as a situation within a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting that resource through their collective action.
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The maximum loudness table that was used in the BOI 2015 noise study points to F-15s producing peak noise levels of 85 dbA (A-weighted decibels) from altitude of 5,000 feet, currently a voluntary noise abatement measure.
The sound level 85 dbA causes hearing deterioration in humans with extended or repeated exposure. Hearing damage accelerates above 85 dbA.
From 5,000 feet, the F-35s without the boosters will produce maximum loudness level of 94 dbA. With the boosters we should expect 105 dbA, and that is painful to the average ear.
We read that F-35s on other bases use boosters 5 to 10 percent of the time — what should we residents do then?
Even if Boise Airport introduced jet noise abatement rule of 10,000 feet, like Seattle uses, the F-35s would still project 84 dbA to the ground.
Importantly, the maximum noise exposure to the nearby residents will come from the F-35s taking off.
The actual noise will be heard over 3 miles from the runway, and not just .5-1.0 miles as averaged DNL (Day-Night Sound Levels) of 65 dBA depicts.
There has been a talk about building a third runway one mile south of the airport. At the open house I asked whether the aircraft using the third runway could take off away from the city to reduce noise to 2,000 homes recently approved to be built between South Cole and extended South Orchard roads. I learned that because of the prevailing winds, the jets most probably will fly toward the homes. There also is a 51-acre future Boise School District junior high or high school site that is closer to the future third runway than any homes in the Syringa Valley development.
When I hear about our airport’s right to expose more of Boise to noise levels that are damaging and make hundreds of homes uninhabitable, because the airport has been there since 1938, it does not sound right to me. The airport expansion erodes private property rights via an ever-changing “airport influence zone” and the signing of avigation easements.
Boise is not a good place to base F-35 or F-15 fighter jets because there are no noise abatement measures that are sufficient to make them compatible with the urban environment.
“Tragedy of the Commons” brings environmental and economic ruin to all.
Inna Patrick is a member of Citizens for a Livable Boise, LivableBoise@gmail.com.