The Federal Aviation Administration says: "My way is the highway."

The FAA has proposed to change the departure flight paths at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by year's end. The plan is to concentrate the departures onto a few "highways" in the name of improved safety. About 75 percent of the flights from runway 30L will be directed over two of these highways -- think "congested freeways" now. If you live underneath one of these freeways, your life is about to change, big-time.

We're talking heavy traffic here: The Metropolitan Airports Commission is estimating that more than 122 large airplanes will be departing on each of these freeways every day -- that is one plane every five minutes for 10 straight hours.

This is not an occasional plane overhead; this is constant noise. Forget about being outside gardening or barbecuing with friends. If you're lucky, you can hide in your sound-insulated house all day. Most of the houses beneath the freeway will not have this benefit, though, since the MAC's sound-insulation program never envisioned a flight path like this.

And it is only going to get worse -- the airport is about to spend $1.2 billion on expansion plans that would add even more flights.

Location, location, location -- the mantra for investing in real estate. Guess what -- if you live under an airplane freeway, your home value may drop by 20 percent (that is $50,000 for the typical home owner), and the appreciation will be a lot less than in other areas. Your house will be branded forever.

One of the freeways follows the Crosstown Hwy. 62 west; the other goes west along a line running through the following intersections: 59th St. and Portland Av. S., 54th St. and Penn Av. S., 50th St. and Hwy. 100. The freeways would be a couple of blocks wide. Check at the MAC website to see if you are under one of the freeways.

There is strength in numbers. But if you live under the freeway, you are about to be in the minority. The rest of the people will give a big sigh of relief that they no longer have to endure the noise. Do you think they will complain about this plan, or support any program that would give the noise back to them in the future? I don't think so.

At a local informational meeting, I was speaking with a representative from the MAC who said he knows firsthand what it means to live with airport noise. Then he added: "Luckily, the planes turn before going over my property."

Nobody in their right mind would wish this torture on their neighbors.

Let's not rush into a decision here. Let's take the time to consider alternatives that don't penalize a few. This proposal works for remote airports, but not for ones within a residential community like ours.

Possible alternatives:

• Keep the highways, but spread the traffic out evenly to lower the number of flights on any given route.

• Change the path of the highways periodically to cover different areas of the city, so that a few specific areas aren't always targeted. For example, rotate all the highways a quarter-mile clockwise every other year.

• Leave things the way they are.

• Revisit moving the airport.

Contact your representatives to voice your opinion before it is too late. Or attend the MAC meeting at 1 p.m. Monday in Room 3048A in the Lindbergh Terminal.

Tom Beckey lives in Edina.