Despite complaints, 5:30 am freight boat stays on SSA schedule

The Woods Hole, now under construction, will soon be added to the route. — Illustration courtesy of the SSA

The Steamship Authority (SSA) told a group of Falmouth residents last week that it will continue to work with truckers to eliminate early-morning noise, but the boatline would continue to keep a 5:30 am freight boat on its schedule through the fall to meet early-morning Island demand.

The residents, many of whom live along Woods Hole Road or adjacent to the terminal, object to the early-morning service. In a Letter to the Editor this week, a version of which was sent to the SSA and co-signed by 134 residents, Nat Trumbull of Woods Hole objected to the expansion of early-morning freight service:

“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. …

“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.”

At a meeting of the SSA members on March 22, SSA general manager Wayne Lamson described the steps the boatline has taken to reduce truck noise. These included scheduling of a drive-through vessel that does not require trucks to back onto the vessel; reminding freight shippers about the state’s anti-idling law; not opening the terminal until one-half hour before the first vessel departure; and changing the way trucks are staged on the property prior to loading for the first few trips in order to minimize the need for backup alarms as much as possible, according to a management report of the meeting.

“Also, the principal complaints about noise from the terminal during the early morning have been about the backup alarms of trucks while they were being loaded on the vessel, and this complaint should be addressed this coming fall by having the M.V. Woods Hole on the route, which will allow trucks to be driven straight onto the boat,” the management report stated.