This video shows the August 30, 2011 public hearing held in Waltham, Mass. regarding the proposed re-routing of pass-through hazardous material (hazmat) trucks from downtown Boston to Route 128 and surrounding highways. City of Boston officials are strongly recommending the hazmat route change based on a comprehensive 182-page public safety analysis recently released by the Ohio-based independent research company, Battelle Memorial Institute. Waltham was the location of the third of the four public hearings being held by MassDOT near impacted areas. (View the Boston public hearing video.)
In stark contrast to the neighborhood reaction from the North End / Waterfront at the Boston public hearing, the community response in the suburbs was non-existent. Only politicians and those fulfilling a job function (ex: trucking lobby) testified against the proposal to have the trucks on Rt. 128. There were no homeowners or abutters to Rt. 128, nor community groups in attendance. A North End resident who testified in favor of the proposal was the only person who was NOT a politician or paid representative.
Issues raised by Waltham politicians included the nearby Cambridge water reservoir, traffic congestion, emergency response, highway speeds and the risk of trucks using side roads. Fortunately, almost all of those concerns can be mitigated. There are already protections in place around the Cambridge water supply in the case of a gasoline spill along Rt. 128, which already carries hazmat trucks. In addition, the Cambridge system has the option of switching over to the MWRA system, a situation that has occured at least twice in the past.
The pubic comment period is open until September 23, 2011. Residents and businesses can email firstname.lastname@example.org to express their own views on the proposed routing change.
Update on Friday, September 2, 2011
Frim F., a North End / Waterfront HazMat Task Force community volunteer attended the final public hearing in Stoneham last night. She sends in this photo of the sparse attendance there. The suburban community was completely absent with only trucking executives, politicians and municipal employees testifying against the proposal to re-route the trucks from Boston’s city streets to Route 128. A common counter-argument at the hearing was that Boston has better emergency response capabilities than the sleepy suburbs.