Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
  Throwing Sh*t at the Wall & Hoping Some Sticks - Luce Road Style
It seems that Mr. Bergman is really, really mad that his letter to the editor of the Eagle (quoted below) wrongly claiming massive fraud regarding Harriman West Airport's runway upgrade did not cause people to grab their pitchforks. He's even more pissed that a reporter actually called the FAA to ask about it:
"Too many to be true" (Transcript story, 2/9/08) is a thinly disguised, hollow rebuttal to local residents' concern over wasteful spending with regards to the Harriman West Airport Improvement Project (AIP).

I'm sure that, with little effort, I could add a hundred signatures to the list of people who "scoff" at the airport's reputed yearly operations.

It comes as no surprise that the FAA backs up those numbers due to the fact that they rely solely on the"Sponsor"(cityofNorth Adams) to provide them -- a sponsor that, by the way, unashamedly admits to not keeping records!
Bergman then tries the guilt by association game by claiming that since there has been fraud with other airport's improvement projects local residents should be outraged and demand that Harriman West's safety upgrade be stopped!!! Outraged, I tell you!!! Blah, blah, blah.

In the last thread, occasional commenter and serious FAA regulation junkie Cap'n John lays out some bare facts:
Airports that receive federal grant money (Harriman and West got $150k in 2007) are required by FAR Part 77 to "identify and mitigate hazards to navigable airspace at their airport". In the case of H-W, having a 4200 foot runway means that any object penetrating a 100:1 slope within 20,000 feet of the runway (in any direction!) is "potentially" subject to regulation.

In more practical terms, it means that the airport has a regulatory obligation to knock down any growing obstruction (like a tree) that tries to penetrate an imaginary surface that slopes upward from a line at ground level 500 feet off of each end of the runway, up to 750 feet each side, at a 20:1 slope, out another 5000 feet. A 50 foot tree a half mile from the runway and 300 (or even more) feet off centerline is fair game.

The thing is, this regulation doesn't have anything to do with the number of operations an airport has. All that matters is that it is public, and it receives federal funds. It has to comply.
Maybe Mr. Bergman should start reading the FAA regs rather than Reason Magazine for his facts. He might actually learn something useful.
Mr. Bergman is of that group that believe that rules and regulations are OK, just as long as they don't effect him. He seems to be under the delusion that because he is he the rest of us should get outta his way. He knew from day one what he was buying and all the possibilities attached to the sale. Giving him any sort of recognition in the paper or in blog sphere is just playing into his attempts to give credence to something that is DOA.
I don't care either way as I don't use the airport nor do I live near it, my interest is in the numbers Cap't John gave.

Maybe I'm wrong or calculating it incorrectly but if the slope is 20:1 wouldn't that mean that a 50 foot tree that is 1500 feet (starting at 500 feet from the end of the runway and at ground level and then calculating a 1 foot rise for every 20 feet of run along the ground) from the end of the runway a candidate for removal? Not the half mile that is stated? I think it would have to be closer to a 70 foot tree at a half mile. Which should include trees at the end of Wilshire and Sunset Drive in Williamstown - haven't heard any mention of these trees.

According to Google Earth, Luce Road is 1000 feet from the western end of the runway.

Maybe wind direction has something to do with it, but even get to the starting point of 500 feet on the east side, you have to go 2 streets over which includes about a dozen houses in the direct path of the runway. A half mile includes way over to Protection Ave!

I think the real concern should be the flooding, if they control that, I don't think there is much any private citizen can say.
The flooding is not a product of the airport. As someone who regularly takes the long route home via Luce Rd, it was quite clear that the massive problem coincided with the finish of the sewer project under the road - not with any one phase of the airport safety upgrade. (Cutting large residential trees does not impact flash flooding. Wetlands and underbrush, yes. Mature trees, no.)

Williamstown knows this, but doesn't want to cough up the $$$ to expand the bottle neck in the storm drain that occurs at Rte 2 and Luce. As soon as the pipe backs up, you have a huge down hill slope draining above ground down to the trailer park.

One of the reasons alleged that Williamstown doesn't want to address the drain issue that they don't want to make any infrastructure improvements that would primarily benefit the trailer park. It is an open secret that the town wants the park to go away. (Just try to get a permit to place a new trailer there.) I've heard others say that since the park is in a flood plain that it would make no sense to drain it, while others say that it is land owner's responsibility to pay for such improvements. Such policy is not an area I am familiar with.

I think that you're quibbling over the math. A 50 foot tree at 2000 feet is not quite a half mile, but close enough for blog comments.
Its actually 1500 feet or about one third of a mile, but no quibbling here, as I said I don't care either way. I was just trying to understand the math.
The provisions of part 77 are very complex. Most people who actually have to use them (versus plugging them into a blog comment) use computer programs. Any given public runway has at least a half-dozen different imaginary surfaces associated with it as defined by the regulation.

H-W's situation is complicated by rising terrain and existing structures, as well as displaced runway thresholds. Trees are relatively easy to deal with once you get the easements and environmental approvals (which H-W has done). The other stuff isn't.

With air carrier/instrument approach usage, the complexity, size and restrictiveness of the surfaces greatly increases. H-W is having problems just complying with the minimum "Utility" standards.

Cap'n John
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