A plane comes in for a landing at San Diego International Airport. / Photo by Thomas Melville
San Diego International Airport has received two grants totaling nearly $14 million, part of a $318.1 million package of grants to 78 airports in 34 states, to provide infrastructure upgrades.
“The grant funding is to continue the airport’s Quieter Home Program,” said San Diego Airport spokesperson Rebecca Bloomfield. “It will help continue projects already under way within the areas the FAA has approved for sound attenuation.”
The Quieter Home Program is the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority’s Residential Sound Insulation Program. The FAA has determined that residences within the 65-plus decibel level contour map around San Diego International Airport may be eligible for sound insulation treatments to mitigate aircraft noise.
The FAA has set a goal of reducing interior noise levels for eligible residents by at least five decibels inside the home, providing a noticeable reduction in noise. The Airport Authority’s Quieter Home Program is the means to obtain that goal.
The FAA said $8 million will be spent to mitigate noise for around 715 people who live around Lindbergh Field. Also, $5.7 million will be used to repair the longest of two east-west runways at Brown Field, the municipal airport nearest the U.S.-Mexico border.
San Diego officials have been trying to spur development at Brown Field in recent years, including approval of a sprawling project that includes airplane hangars, industrial buildings, retail space and restaurants. The four-phase project, which could take two decades to build out, could get underway by the end of this year.
“The airport improvement program helps to maintain our aviation infrastructure and supports safety, capacity, security and environmental improvements,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. “This is an important investment in these airports and the economic vitality of their respective communities.”
Bloomfield noted the Quieter Home Program’s goal “... is achieved by treating windows and doors in habitable spaces. We also offer some form of ventilation treatment if they don’t already have one.”
Bloomfield estimated 6,000 homes remain within the established noise contour for sound diminishment.
Homeowners may apply for the Quieter Homes Program at www.san.org/Airport-Noise/Quieter-Home-Program.
“My husband, Mike, and I were completely happy with the Quieter Home Program and all the soundproofing made to our home definitely reduced airplane noise,” said Pam Carleton, who lives in Point Loma.
“Catherine Darby, our program coordinator, was responsive, communicative, and on top of our project, which was done in August 2015. We had to be out of town for a week during this process due to an unplanned family medical emergency, and Catherine kept us posted and even emailed pictures when a change was needed and she wanted our approval. We had a very positive experience with the Quieter Home Program,” Carleton said.
The average cost to sound proof a home against airplane noise?
“The average cost is $30,000 per home,” answered Bloomfield, adding, “we estimate the $8 million grant will provide funding for approximately one year, or 286 homes within the program boundary.”
With the exception of last fiscal year, Bloomfield said the Airport Authority has received an annual FAA grant for the Quieter Home Program since 2004. The program has provided sound attenuation to an estimated 3,500 homes within the program boundaries.
Bloomfield pointed out each homeowner in the Quieter Homes Program is requested to complete a post-construction survey.
San Diego International Airport is owned and operated by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. In 2015, traffic at San Diego International exceeded 20 million passengers, serving more than 500 scheduled operations carrying about 50,000 passengers daily. While primarily serving domestic traffic, San Diego has nonstop international flights to Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
SAN is the busiest single runway airport in the U.S. and third-busiest single runway in the world, behind Mumbai and London Gatwick. Due to the airport's short usable-runway, close proximity to the skyscrapers of downtown San Diego and steep landing approach as a result of the nearby Peninsular Ranges.
SAN has been called "the busiest, most difficult single runway in the world."
SAN operates in controlled airspace served by the Southern California TRACON, which is some of the busiest airspace in the world.