Courthouse News Service - Edvard Pettersson

The Federal Aviation Administration will have to take a more thorough look at the potential effects of construction noise from a new passenger terminal at Bob Hope "Hollywood Burbank" Airport in Southern California.

In a split decision Wednesday, a Ninth Circuit panel granted a partial win to the city of LA, which had challenged the environmental impact statement the FAA prepared for a voter-approved replacement of the more than 50-year-old passenger terminal at the airport about 12 miles northwest of downtown LA.

The appellate panel wasn't persuaded by the city's argument that the FAA had not sufficiently considered alternatives to the proposed site for the terminal, but it agreed with LA that the FAA failed to adequately analyze the impact on the surrounding communities from construction noise from the project that is expected to take six years to finish.

"FAA did not take a hard look at noise impacts from the project because its analysis rested on an unsupported and irrational assumption that construction equipment would not be operated simultaneously," U.S. Circuit Judge Stephen Higginson, a Barack Obama appointee from the Fifth Circuit who sat on the panel by designation, wrote for the majority. "As a result, FAA failed to consider an important aspect of the problem: the combined noise impacts from construction equipment on nearby neighborhoods."

The FAA declined to comment on the ruling.

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