First published in the July 30 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The Hollywood Burbank Airport has been awarded nearly $3 million in federal grants for infrastructure improvements and noise-reduction efforts, according to U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff.
“Hollywood Burbank Airport is an essential connection point for my constituents,” Schiff said. “These new funds will greatly benefit both the surrounding community and passengers, and I look forward to seeing what future improvements the infrastructure bill will deliver for my hometown of Burbank.”
The airport was awarded $2,153,678 to rehabilitate taxiway pavement and other areas of the airfield, and $805,900 to conduct a noise compatibility study, including updating noise exposure maps and identifying where the airport could undertake noise mitigation efforts, according to Schiff’s office.
Residents in southern San Fernando Valley communities have voiced their disapproval of noise levels from the airport since the Federal Administration of Aviation shifted flight paths south in 2016 in accordance with satellite-based routes. As a result, planes now fly over homes with residents who previously did not experience noise.
In response, the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, or BGPAA, and Los Angeles World Airports jointly formed the Southern San Fernando Valley Airplane Noise Task Force to address community concerns with the Federal Aviation Administration, the organization that determines flight paths.
The task force met routinely in 2019 and 2020 to hear from the community, obtain results of flight studies and prepare a set of recommendations to submit to the FAA for review and potential implementation, according to a letter from Emily Gabel-Luddy, president of the BGPAA, to the FAA.
“The funds provided by the FAA will support the rehabilitation of a taxiway and the funds necessary for the airport to undertake a Party 150 Noise Compatibility Study. The noise study is in response to one of the recommendations which came from the [Southern San Fernando Valley Airplane Noise Task Force],” said Frank Miller, executive director of the Hollywood Burbank Airport.
Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request made by the city of Los Angeles and other neighborhood associations to return to the previous flight paths, and there is no indication that the flight paths will be shifted back northward in the future, despite recommendations from the task force. Instead, funds allocated from the infrastructure package will be used to investigate ways to reduce or mitigate noise.
According to Schiff’s office, the $3 million in federal grants were awarded through the FAA’s airport improvement program, which provides funds for improvements to runways, taxiways, aprons, safety-related projects and noise abatement.
The federal infrastructure package Congress passed last November included $15 billion for airport-related projects such as these to strengthen and modernize the country’s aviation infrastructure.
In addition to the noise mitigation study, more than two-thirds of the infrastructure grant will support “ongoing maintenance and planning needs of the airport as it continues to move forward with its terminal replacement program,” Miller said.
The replacement terminal, which is undergoing planning, will have the same number of gates — 14 — but will increase from 232,000 square feet to about 355,000 square feet, according to city officials. The runways and flight paths will not be changed.
After years of lawsuits, Burbank voters approved the planning and construction of the 14-gate terminal with the passage of Measure B in 2016. The airport is continuing with the planning phase, and recently approved a contract for program management services.