Temporary Runway Closure Will Impact Winthrop Residents

By Adam Swift

Logan Airport’s longest runway will be closing down this summer for a rehabilitation project.

That closure means there will be more traffic on runways whose flight paths directly impact Winthrop, according to MassPort officials.

MassPort officials laid out the plan for runway 15 Right, 33 Left, which will close for about 100 days beginning on August 14.

The safety rehabilitation project is mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which requires that each airfield be rehabilitated every 10 to 12 years, depending upon use and condition. Runway 15R, 33L was last rehabbed in 2012, according to Sarah Dennechuk, a senior project manager at MassPort.

Dennechuk said the runway is primarily used during northwest winds, which are typically prevalent in the winter and spring months.

“Aircraft do take off and land into the wind, and it is our preferred late night over Boston Harbor runway for noise abatement purposes,” said Dennechuk.

The runway project includes enhancing safety by replacing the pavement and improving runway and taxiway intersections. MassPort will also be upgrading the electrical infrastructure and converting all the runway lights to energy-efficient LED lights.

“We will be closing the runway for approximately 100 days,” said Dennechuk. The timeline for the closure was made after meeting with the airlines and other stakeholders, as well as considering other factors, such as the closure of the Sumner Tunnel.

“We have an additional three configurations we can use to spread the air traffic out with the closure of 15 Right, 33 Left,” said Steve Sulprizio of MassPort. “We are going to see, obviously, a change in the use pattern based on that closure of about three months.”

Sulprizio said the big thing about the runway that will temporarily close is that it is the runway used primarily for overnight international and cargo flights because its flight patterns are over the water and away from land masses.

“The bottom line is Winthrop will see some additional operations from (runway) 9-27 with departures off 9 and arrivals to 27, so there will be some impacts there, as well as some people who are affected with 22 Left arrivals,” said Sulprizio. “We are anticipating increases in operations on those particular runways.”

Runway 9-27 primarily impacts Point Shirley, while 22 Left impacts the Belle Isle Marsh area, he said.

Dennechuk said there are comprehensive mitigation measures that will be in place to reduce construction noise and other impacts, including maximizing daytime construction hours as much as possible and hauling waste and other materials as much as possible during the day.

“We also prohibited trucks from using the city of Boston streets to and from the airport, and that includes Bennington Street and everything around there,” Dennechuk said. “We also look to aim all lights from night operations away from the communities and the air traffic control tower.”

Precinct 5 Councillor Joseph Aiello said he was disappointed that MassPort did not provide more specific data about the number of flights that will be diverted over Winthrop during the closure,

“We should be able to see that and discuss it with the community so we can advise people about the increase in noise coming from the planes,” said Aiello. “I am disappointed that we do not see that, given that we are only five months away.”

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