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Neighborhood Council Issues HazMat Truck Letter

The North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council, NEWNC, has submitted the following letter in support of the proposal to reroute pass-through hazardous material trucks from City of Boston streets to highways around the city. Donna Freni, NEWNC President, urges all North End/Waterfront residents to submit their own individual letters of support by the public comment deadline of September 23, 2011. Additional information, including the City of Boston routing evaluation, is available on the MassDOT website (choose QuickLinks, then City of Boston Proposed HazMat Route). Letters may be emailed to

North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council
Nazzaro Community Center
30 N. Bennet Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02113

September 12, 2011

Thomas F. Broderick, P.E.
Acting Chief EngineerMassDOT
10 Park Plaza, Suite 4160
Boston, MA 02116

Attention:  Boston HazMat Route

Dear Mr. Broderick:

I am writing on behalf of the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC), comprised of twelve elected members whose purpose is to act as an advisory board to the City of Boston in municipal affairs and to participate in the City’s decisions affecting the quality of life in the North End/Waterfront neighborhoods.  The Council’s mission is to protect and improve the quality of life for the residents who live in this historic community. To that end, NEWNC strongly supports the City of Boston’s routing analysis and urges the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to adopt and implement the recommendations of the City’s Hazardous Cargo Routing Study.  We fully concur with the City’s HazMat Route Evaluation Report which concluded that vehicles carrying hazardous materials through city streets are potentially dangerous and should be avoided as much as possible.

The proposed ban of pass-through HazMat trucks by the City is based on a comprehensive public safety study recently completed by the highly regarded Battelle Memorial Institute, an independent contractor.  The data and analysis decisively concluded that HazMat trucks traveling through downtown Boston, including the North End/Waterfront neighborhoods, present a public safety risk more than twice that of using the highways around Boston.  The report strongly recommends that only HazMat vehicles with drop-off or pickup locations within Boston should be allowed to travel within city limits, and all others should use alternative routes outside of the City, which would then reduce the risk to the public.

North End/Waterfront residents are sincerely and primarily concerned about the safety of living in close proximity to a presently designated hazardous cargo route.  Recognized as one of the country’s oldest historic neighborhoods, the North End/Waterfront neighborhood is one of the most densely populated areas of Massachusetts.  This reality is compounded by the millions of tourists who visit this area annually.  Our small businesses also depend upon a healthy tourist environment centered on public access and safety.  Even a minor incident will have catastrophic consequences to residents, visitors, environmental resources, historic structures and Boston’s reputation as a safe, welcoming city.  It was found that the risk was dramatically higher in narrow city streets (of which the North End primarily consists) and that hazardous cargo trucks traveling through Boston are significantly more dangerous than if they were to travel along alternative routes.

Accordingly, NEWNC respectfully requests that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation thoroughly review the Battelle report and endorse its findings.  This report has shown that relocating the pass-through hazardous cargo trucks to safer routes outside of the City of Boston will reduce the risk to our residents and bring protection to our neighborhoods.

Thank you for your attention to this critical public safety issue.


Donna A. Freni
President, NEWNC

Anne S. Ferro, Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Administration
State Senator Anthony Petruccelli
State Representative Aaron Michlewitz
Mayor Thomas M. Menino
City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina
Commissioner Thomas Tinlin, Boston Transportation Department
Stephanie Hogue, President, North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association