For some Arlington residents, the next six months will pass one low rumble at a time.
The Radnor/Fort Myer Heights Civic Association, which represents people living between Wilson Boulevard and Arlington National Cemetery from the Potomac River as far west as Courthouse Road, met with representatives of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Tuesday to discuss increased airplane noise and its adverse effect on their community.
Many residents said they often were unable to sleep due to planes flying overhead at all hours of the night. One woman even said she sometimes sees landing lights in her bedroom and can’t sleep with her windows open due to the noise.
“It’s only temporary,” said Mike Jeck, assistant manager of Washington National’s noise office.
The noise is a side effect of construction at the airport.
National is currently in the midst of rehabbing its primary runway. Construction takes place every night between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. This forces south-flowing night arrivals to fly directly over the Radnor/Fort Myer Heights area as pilots prepare to land at the airport’s secondary, less convenient runway.
The updated primary runway is scheduled for completion by the end of this year, but the project has been slowed by the recent earthquake, hurricane and other unforeseen problems.
“In the next six months we’re going to see a dramatic change,” said Bob Laser, National’s operations manager of air traffic.
Not only will the rehabbed runway soon be open 24 hours a day, but the majority of aircraft also will be installed with a new navigation system starting in April. That system is supposed to help pilots consistently fly over the Potomac when they pass through the Arlington area -- and to avoid interrupting the daily lives people who live here.
For Radnor/Fort Myer Heights community members, though, these changes are too little and much too late.
One disgruntled attendee shouted, “Nobody cares about the residents!” Another told Bryan Spoon, outreach director for U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, that he should be ashamed of himself when Spoon spoke in the airline representatives’ defense.
“If you live in a building two-and-a-half miles from an airport that is as busy as Washington National, you’re going to have noise,” said Ken Robinson, secretary of the civic association.
“I don’t know what the solution is.”