By Rick Liou
There is a major infrastructure project happening in Bedford that will impact our roads, traffic, safety, and health starting next Tuesday (8/1) through late-September. Yet apparently, it’s the best-kept secret!
Massport is resurfacing Hanscom Airport’s main runway which is over 7,000 feet long and 150 feet wide. This project involves milling, removing roughly 1,051,650 square feet of asphalt and installing a new grooved surface. To make this happen, Massport is estimating 6,874 heavy construction truck trips into the airport via two Bedford roads (Hartwell Road ~ 5,574 and South Road ~ 1,300). In all, that is 13,748 round trips over a 24/7 non-stop work schedule. That’s right, 24 hours, 7 days, continuously for 7 to 8 weeks!
I’ve learned in the past few days that although this project has been on Massport’s monthly project report to the Hanscom Field Advisory Commission(HFAC) for more than a year, it’s reported that the specific impact to Bedford residents only came to light during HFAC’s June 2017 meeting. More details were shared during the July meeting but none of the residents and abutters of the airport were notified. Why? One can only surmise that Massport intentionally delayed notifying residents in order to avoid possible push back. In fact, after being contacted directly by Bedford residents, Massport representative Amber Godspeed said that letters to residents were mailed out on Wednesday, 7/26 – a mere 4 business days before the project is to start. As of Friday morning (7/28), I have not received any direct notification from Massport. How is this okay considering the massive disruption this project will cause to our lives over a two month period!
The edge of the airport is a stone’s throw away from my backyard. Many of my neighbors have lived here since the 60’s and 70’s. These longtime residents recall the last runway re-pavement (some 20 years ago) and recount sand and dust covered homes and cars, property and road damages, plus all around inconvenience. Windows had to be shut throughout the entire project to prevent dust being blown into the homes. You can imagine what that does to residents without air conditioning during the hottest months of summer. My son has asthma, so we take extra measures to surround our property with trees and greenery to help improve air quality and mitigate jet air pollutants. I can’t imagine what the added construction dust and air pollutants are going to do to his health and our environment. The inability to get a good night’s rest due to 24/7 construction noise further adds to our anxiety about the impact of this project to all of our health. We are not against progress. What is especially frustrating in this instance is that we were kept in the dark. Is this even legal?
In truth, the impact of this project on Bedford residents and community is many folds. Here are just a few that comes to mind:
Increased traffic congestions on roads that are already heavily taxed during commuting hours, thus intensifying air pollution.
Increased noise pollution for abutters as well as residents who live below flight paths. We’ve been told that Massport is exempt from the noise ordinance so therefore can carry on 24/7.
A 24/7 construction schedule is unconscionable and torturous as it’ll disrupt people’s sleep and undoubtedly cause sleep deprivation over a prolonged 8 week period – a major health concern.
The need to reroute flights onto one single flight path means doubling up on noise pollution for those who live below the 05-23 runway.
Safety. The two routes earmarked as staging areas for in/out traffic to the airfield service residential homes as well as the Edge Sports Center and the South Road soccer fields which will be heavily used starting in September as kids and families begin their sports activities. We need assurances that police details and strict adherences to speed limits are observed by construction vehicles accessing these roads on a 24/7 schedule.
Road damages are all but certain from increased heavy construction vehicles. To date, there’s no word that Massport has set aside funding to redress road damages. Bedford residents should not have to pay to repair roads damaged by this project out of our tax dollars.
Impact to local businesses and those who run home based businesses. Residents are already airing their frustration and anxiety over the increase in traffic congestion. So much so that people are saying on social media outlets that they’re planning to cut back on trips to local business establishments just to avoid traffic congestion and wasted time. What’ll happen to Bedford institutions like Chip-In Farm and Bedford Farms Ice Cream who are both located on the affected access roads?
Bedford is a close knit community. We care about and for one another. There are many who are outraged by how this project has been handled and the apparent lack of transparency. Since news of this project broke this past week, my neighbor Patty Dahlgren has been working tirelessly to organize the community, its leaders and advocates to ensure our voices and concerns are heard. Although she is not the only one who has championed our concerns (thank you also to our Selectman, Police Dept, and DPW), her efforts have directly resulted in a Special Town Selectman Meeting to be held on Monday evening (7/31/17) at 6:45 p.m. at the Town Hall’s Multi-Purpose Room. Massport representative will be in attendance to hear and address our concerns. All are welcomed and encouraged to attend to be heard and to show support.