Truckers, state and local officials were among those who opposed a plan that would reroute trucks hauling hazardous materials around Boston and ban them from downtown. The hearing was the last of four public hearings on the proposal and was held in Stoneham last Thursday.
Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation (MassDOT) representatives received input largely from area politicians, safety officials and truck drivers, on its plan to reroute trucks carrying hazardous materials — aimed primarily at tanker trucks hauling diesel fuel, gasoline and home heating fuel — around Boston on Interstate 128 and ban trucks from traveling into the city unless the origin or destination of the trip is in Boston, according to the Stoneham Patch.
A 2006 study commissioned by the city of Boston, released on May 13 of this year, said that hazmat trucks traveling through the city posed an unacceptable risk.
“These vehicles simply do not belong on busy roadways in densely populated areas,” according to a July 25 press statement from Mayor Tom Menino. “The city of Boston has worked hard over the past year to implement changes to the routing of hazardous cargo through the North End and Charlestown residential neighborhoods, as well as through the Financial District."
Speaking on behalf of Menino at Thursday’s hearing, Boston Transportation Commissioner Thomas Tinlin, said the proposed bypass route would increase the total average hazmat transport by 22 minutes. However, truckers who spoke during the session disagreed with that assertion, claiming it would take longer than that given traffic constraints of the new transport route through dozens of communities.
Truckers also gave testimony at earlier hearings on the proposed truck ban. “Take a route, and that route would be from Boston to Braintree, that is currently nine miles long and turn it into a 53- to 57-mile, one-way route,” Anne Lynch, executive director of the Massachusetts Motor Transportation Assn. said.
Cost of the extra miles isn’t the most important issue, Lynch said, but that lengthening truck travel will decrease safety for truck drivers and other motorists on the already-congested Interstate 128 that rings the Greater Boston area. She cited a recent study by the American Automobile Assn. that determined 80% of the accidents involving large trucks are caused by car drivers.