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SPANGDAHLEM AB, Germany — Spangdahlem Air Base officials met with residents of Binsfeld on Friday night to discuss how a major base expansion project will affect the closest community to the site.

Work begins as early as this week on a new ramp with enough space to park 11 C-5 Galaxy aircraft — the Air Force’s largest cargo lifter. The ramp is part of a $167 million project to make Spangdahlem capable of handling overflow cargo flights after Rhein-Main Air Base closes in December 2005.

Most of Rhein-Main’s flights will be picked up by Ramstein Air Base, which also is undergoing major renovations for the transfer. The German government is paying for the bulk of the work.

The Spangdahlem ramp, new buildings for a mobility squadron, a new firehouse and other improvements are part of the largest construction project since Spangdahlem was built in the early 1950s, said Lt. Col. Keith Maxwell, Rhein-Main transition officer at Spangdahlem. The base now is home to two F-16 squadrons and one A-10 squadron.

Of the villages near Spangdahlem, Binsfeld stands to be most affected by the new cargo-lifting operations. One Binsfeld housing area begins about one-third of a mile southeast of the new ramp, which is being built along the southeast side of the 10,000-foot runway.

Some residents already have longstanding complaints over noise from the fighters, and community members are worried that a nearby elementary school may have to contend with higher noise levels when flight operations increase, Maxwell said.

Residents also have fought with the German government over the appropriation of some of their farmland for the ramp construction. The ramp will be more than a half-mile long and 1,300 feet wide.

“They have legitimate concerns, and we’re trying to answer those concerns by saying we’ll minimize the impacts,” Maxwell said Friday.

Binsfeld villagers are most concerned about airplane emissions and noise. According to the plan, the base will see an additional four to six takeoffs or landings a day when cargo operations start. That number may increase, however, during major contingencies.

Residents are particularly worried that planes doing “run-ups,” or post-maintenance engine checks, will increase noise beyond acceptable levels. Such run-ups typically take 20-30 minutes, Maxwell said.

Maxwell said that based on several noise studies, noise levels won’t exceed German standards. And to decrease emission levels, the base will install a blast fence that will help deflect engine exhaust away from Binsfeld, he said.

The meeting Friday was to respond to comments Binsfeld residents made after the German government approved Spangdahlem’s construction permit. The issue then will go before the town council.

Maxwell said the Air Force hopes the council will forward a letter to the German government saying all the town’s concerns have been addressed.

Last week, Spangdahlem officials briefed the Wittlich town council, which wrote such a letter.

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