To the Editor:
As residents of the Town of Falmouth, we would like to reiterate our strongest objection to the fact that the Steamship Authority (SSA) continues to expand its early-morning freight ferry schedule to Martha’s Vineyard from Woods Hole.
Woods Hole neighbors have complained directly since autumn 2015 to the Steamship Authority board about the truck noise associated with the 5:30 am freight ferry.
The 5:30 am ferry involves a great number of very large trucks passing through the Woods Hole SSA terminal beginning at 5 am.
To judge by the 6 am and 6:15 am ferries (which have continued to run in the last nine weeks in the absence of the 5:30 am ferry) to Martha’s Vineyard, efforts to reduce backing up, idling, and backup beeping have not significantly reduced the overall noise level that truck activity at the Woods Hole terminal creates.
We continue to hear a similar noise level of truck loading, backing up and beeping, and associated traffic noise along Woods Hole Road as before noise reduction measures were taken beginning in January 2016.
As neighbors and Falmouth residents, we appreciate the good-faith efforts regarding noise dampening for the 6 am and 6:15 am runs to Martha’s Vineyard, but the noise reduction measures since January 2016 to reduce truck loading noise have not been effective.
It is time for the SSA to recognize the fundamental problem: Sixty-foot and longer trucks with weights up to 80,000 pounds simply cannot operate quietly at the SSA Woods Hole Terminal and along Woods Hole Road. At 5:30 am there are significant impacts on the neighbors and on other Falmouth residents.
Despite numerous neighborhood complaints from October to December 2015 and in January 2016, the Steamship Authority has decided to continue with its plan to expand the 5:30 am freight ferry in 2016 to a larger and larger number of months (9.5 months out of 12 months) than ever before.
On March 16, 2016, the Steamship Authority restarted its 5:30 am freight ferry for Monday through Saturday service. This year is the earliest in the calendar year that the SSA began its 5:30 am service.
This expansion of the 5:30 am schedule continues a pattern of expansion beginning four years ago. Prior to that, the SSA never had a 5:30 am freight ferry scheduled out of Woods Hole.
Mr. Wayne Lamson, Steamship Authority General Manager, has stated repeatedly that truck traffic has not increased significantly on the Martha’s Vineyard route during the last ten-year period.
The Steamship Authority is taking advantage of the good will of residents of Falmouth toward the Steamship Authority’s operations in Woods Hole and especially of the approximately 300 households (many of whom have small children) who live along Woods Hole Road and in the vicinity of the Woods Hole terminal.
We find the Steamship Authority’s current early morning freight ferry scheduling approach to be increasingly abusive to Falmouth residents.
A 5:30 am freight ferry — with loading beginning at 5 am — is simply too early in the day and is too disruptive to our community.
Nat Trumbull (and 134 other Falmouth residents who signed a similar version of this letter addressed to SSA board members)