Transportation roundup: MAC rolling out more noise relief measures

The wait is coming to an end for a large block of Southwest homeowners promised relief from airplane noise.

Late last month, the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) rolled out the second phase of its noise-mitigation program and began sending letters to homeowners identified to receive a range of products intended to provide insulation from the sounds of jets flying
overhead.

This phase (formally called Phase 2A and 2B, for those of you who will soon have to sort through the letters’ jargon) is largest of the program, affecting some 5,300 homes, with more than 4,000 of them in Minneapolis.

Households have already chosen to enroll in one section of the program, either Phase 2A (a new air-conditioning unit and $4,000 in insulation upgrades) or Phase 2B ($14,000 in insulation upgrades). Phase 2A is already rolling; Phase 2B will start in 2010.

HOUSEHOLDS IN PROGRAM

So here’s how it works:

Keep an eye out for a letter in the mail. Though don’t hold your breath (or get worried if your neighbor gets a letter and you don’t) — letters are staggered through the duration of the program, which runs until June 2012.

When the letter arrives, you’ll be invited to an orientation meeting and asked to decide, as soon as possible, what you want to spend your money on. There’s an array of choices, from replacement windows and doors to a variety of insulation procedures for light fixtures, chimneys, and more.

If you’re not sure what to choose, there’s a full showroom set up at the Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) at 6517 Nicollet Ave. S. in Richfield. Hours are 8 a.m.–4p.m. Monday through Friday.

The first phase of the program, for homes most affected by noise, continues through the end of this year. Construction continues on a majority of those homes and will run through the end of the year.

The third phase, for homes least affected, allows homeowners to get reimbursed for some improvements they make for home insulation. The reimbursements will start in 2010.

For more information on the noise-mitigation program, including maps and details on each of the phases, as well as details on the reimbursement phase, visit www.macnoise.com.

Flashing traffic lights

No, the flashing 31st Street traffic lights at Emerson and Dupont avenues aren’t perpetually broken.

They’re part of the city’s periodic testing of traffic lights in residential areas. The idea is to see whether the lights are still necessary.

And based on the results so far, the lights could be swapped out for all-way stops as soon as later this month, said Donald Sobania, a city traffic engineer. The city and nearby residents hope the all-way stops will help slow traffic on the street; others are concerned that they’ll cause backups during peak times.

The test came after the city met last year with CARAG neighborhood representatives about replacing the current lights, positioned at the side of the road, with more visible lights hanging over the intersection.

Testing hasn’t finished yet, and will continue for "an indeterminate amount of time," Sobania said. Meaning that if you want to have your say on whether the lights should stay or go, now’s the time to call the city’s Traffic Department. They’re at 673-5750 or online at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/traffic/traffic-signal.asp.