Federal grant softens noise

The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) will receive $3.6 million in federal funds to help insulate homes from airport noise.

The money will reimburse the MAC for insulating multifamily buildings in the above-64 DNL (day-night noise level) in Bloomington and Richfield, said John Nelson, Part 150 program manager at the MAC.

The insulating of the buildings is part of the noise-mitigation program launched in 1992. So far, more than 7,600 area single-family homes and 660 multifamily units have had insulation upgrades, costing more than $230 million.

Approximately 530 multifamily housing units in Richfield and Bloomington will benefit from the federal grant.

Nelson said the MAC will complete insulation work in above-64 DNL single-family homes by the end of April and complete the multifamily units in 2007.

He said the MAC has completed mitigation work on all eligible Southwest houses.

In 2004, the MAC approved a controversial plan to offer noise mitigation in the 60-64 DNL sound contour, including some houses in Southwest. The plan offered central air conditioning only to homeowners rather than the package of insulation, windows, doors and other sound-dampening enhancements the commission installed for homeowners in the above-64 DNL areas.

The $35 million plan also demands that homeowners pay a significant portion of the costs of the air conditioning, according to a sliding fee scale. Minneapolis and some communities near the airport have sued in response to the proposal, claiming the MAC has reneged on promises to do more to help those homeowners.

The suit is scheduled to go to trial in state court in August.