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Pol slams agency on plane noise

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U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) released a study this week accusing the Port Authority of failing to mitigate airplane noise in Queens neighborhoods as millions of dollars in available funds sit idle.

"The Port Authority is doing virtually nothing," Weiner said during a news conference in front of LaGuardia Airport's Marine Air Terminal Monday. "What we're saying is if the money is available, then let's use it."

The agency has never applied for $5 million a year in federal funds available for residential soundproofing, the study said, and fails to engage the community in discussions about airplane noise, while one major U.S. airport - Chicago's O'Hare International - holds weekly meetings with the community.

Air and noise pollution in residential neighborhoods surrounding the borough's two airports has been a contentious issue for years.

Community advocates have argued that noise levels from airplanes taking off and landing have become unbearable, but the airports have come under greater pressure to provide more and more flights to remain competitive in the industry.

The study, conducted with fellow Congressman Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, said the Port Authority did less to mitigate noise pollution in New York's two airports than any other major airport operation in the nation, despite being one of the country's largest.

The Port Authority has generated more than $500 million through its $3 per-ticket Passenger Facility Charge, the report said, but it has put the money toward the $1.5 billion Airtrain link to Kennedy Airport and another rail link project to Newark Airport in New Jersey.

At Minnesota's St. Paul International, Seattle's Tacoma International, and Chicago's O'Hare International airports, more than 60 percent of annual PFC funds went toward noise mitigation projects, the report said.

Port Authority spokesman Greg Trevor said in an interview the agency has not applied for federal funding for residential soundproofing because it already has spent $75 million in federal funds to soundproof more than 60 schools around the Port Authority's three airports - John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia, and Newark.

The agency has not spent any money on residential soundproofing because it is cooperating with the Federal Aviation Administration's airspace redesign.

"If the noise contours move, there is the possibility the affected areas might shift," Trevor said.

He said the agency chose to use funds toward the "environmentally friendly" Airtrain project, which he said will help reduce air pollution by taking cars off the road.

And the agency holds regular meetings with Borough President Claire Shulman's airport advisory committee, Trevor said. Shulman has been a strong supporter of the Airtrain.

"We have been industry leaders in the fight to reduce airplane noise," Trevor said.

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