A $4-million federal grant for home noise insulation may be just the sleeping pill for which some residents in the John Wayne Airport’s takeoff zone have been longing.
Orange County supervisors announced Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration had awarded the money to continue a program of soundproofing homes in the Santa Ana Heights neighborhood, an area in the path of commercial airline traffic.
The grant funds come in the wake of new takeoff procedures, approved by the county in June, that increase noise levels by a few decibels in residential areas just south of the airport.
Mark Esslinger, a planner with the county’s Environmental Management Agency, said that 64 homeowners in the Santa Ana Heights area are on a waiting list to have their residences outfitted with double-paned windows or heavier doors to deflect the airport noise.
In some cases, homeowners especially affected by noise levels have qualified for air-conditioning systems that would allow them to close their windows to overhead air traffic.
Depending on the location of homes, Esslinger said residences may qualify for up to $32,500 worth of government-financed modifications.
An earlier insulation program sponsored by the county resulted in the insulation of 68 homes located within the flight path. That program was halted last year while the new takeoff procedures were being tested at the airport.
County officials could not say exactly when the insulation program would begin, but it is estimated that up to 500 home and apartment owners would be eligible for insulation benefits.