- Associated Press - Sunday, May 11, 2014

TINICUM, Pa. (AP) - There are times during the day when you can walk around the Lester section of Tinicum Township and almost forget that it sits next to the 10th busiest airport in North America.

Sure, there are occasional reminders like finding a sticky oily substance on your vehicle that residents suspect is jet fuel residue, or the rumble of a jet landing or taking off, but it’s more background noise rather than something that interrupts a person’s day.

However, it’s much different during the traditional morning and afternoon rush hours. What happens on area roadways from about 6 to 9 a.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m. each day also happens near the same time in the airways above the Philadelphia International Airport.

That’s when the rumblings are much more frequent and on some occasions, much closer to the ground. Residents in the Lester section are making some loud rumblings, too, after hearing about the latest version of the airport’s Capacity Enhancement Program (CEP). That program will include adding a new runway, part of which will go into a section of the Delaware River and come closer to Tinicum, while relocating the current UPS facility and Cargo City area.

It was thought that about 300 residents in Lester would have to relocate, under the airport’s initial expansion plans. However, after many revisions, the homes were saved. But now, for several reasons, residents are wondering if that’s really a good thing.

“When they first came up with this plan, the airport people came and appraised my house at $215,000,” said Pete Perkins, who lives on Manhattan Street in Tinicum, and just a stone’s throw from where the expansion will take place. “Now what’s it going to be worth, $100,000? I look at this as a loss. It’s all going down the tubes.”

What will be going up at the end of Manhattan and Iroquois streets in Tinicum will be a sound wall. But residents there don’t see that providing much of a solution. For one, the noise from the planes comes from above. Also, that end of the town is where a wetlands area sits, and it does help keep the water level down in the neighborhood.

But Rick Powley, who lives at the end of Manhattan and Iroquois, wonders if the water levels will rise when the wall goes up.

“I have never had water problems,” Powley said. “But when they start tearing up the soil, who knows what will happen with the water level.”

Residents understand there will be some noise simply because they live close to an airport. However, the increase in recent years, especially with planes flying directly over houses, has easily exceeded expectations.

“The only thing they are doing for us, really, is down at the end of the street,” said Al Troxel, who also lives on Manhattan Street, referring to the sound wall that could go up as early as this summer. “But you know what that’s going to do for me? Nothing. A wall on the ground is not going to do anything with the noise coming from above us. How is that going to knock the noise down?”

Powley, Perkins, Troxel and others said some planes come in so low they can see the faces of individual passengers.

“If their window is up, you can actually see the colors of their ties,” Powley said.

Some people will say that’s part of living so close to an airport. But Troxel says it wasn’t always this way.

“This is not what we get for living here,” he said. “It’s not our fault they got too big for their britches. That airport is making so much money they can’t count it all.”

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