Task force assails freight boat via Falmouth town warrant

A warrant article by the SMART Citizens Task Force seeks to prohibit truck traffic on Falmouth roads from 11pm to 6am through a bylaw. If enacted, the bylaw would stymie the SSA's 5:30am freight boat by blocking trucks from Crane Street. — Rich Saltzberg

The SMART Citizen’s Task Force, via Steamship Authority critic Nathaniel Trumbull, has placed a petition article on Falmouth’s autumn town meeting warrant that would restrict truck traffic. The article seeks to establish a bylaw prohibiting truck traffic from 11 pm to 6 am on town roads that are near residential zones. Such a bylaw would effectively halt trucks from turning from Woods Hole Road, a state highway, onto Crane Street, and accessing the SSA Woods Hole terminal. This would prevent trucks from reaching the seasonal 5:30 am freight boat. 

The 5:30 am freight boat is unpopular with many Woods Hole residents because of the noise generated by trucks traveling to it. The truck article states in part, “To develop a bylaw on the use of town-owned roads bordering on residential zones by commercial vehicles from the hours of 11 pm to 6 am. Such bylaw is intended to provide relief to residential neighborhoods that are plagued with early morning truck traffic, and to establish quiet hours in those neighborhoods. The town will develop a quiet hours bylaw based on sound-impact data with a completion date of July 1, 2022.”

“The Steamship Authority became aware of the Falmouth town meeting article through word of mouth and news reports, but it was not presented directly to us,” SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll emailed The Times. “We are reviewing the proposal, and will determine what action, if any, is necessary following the vote of town meeting in November.”

The SMART Citizens Task Force placed another article on the Falmouth warrant that seeks $30,000 for illuminated speed signs on Woods Hole Road and Palmer Avenue “to encourage compliance with posted speed limits, particularly for heavily laden ferry-bound truck traffic.” 


  1. Falmouth may well pass a bylaw that controls traffic on town roads, but has no jurisdiction over state owned roads. Palmer Avenue is part of Route 28, and Woods Hole Road is very likely a state road. Plus any such bylaw would have to be approved by the Attorney General in addition to passing town meeting.

    • The people of Falmouth really ought to extend the ban until 7:00am; seven hours respite is not enough for a good night’s sleep.

  2. AFAIK, the Steamship Authority and its vessels constitute an extension of the state highway, and Woods Hole Road is a state highway.
    Surely if Falmouth attempts to pass such a law, it would apply to all trucks, including those that are traveling “near residential zones” anywhere in within Falmouth (Woods Hole being part of the town of Falmouth) or from Falmouth to any other destinations. Also I should think that “residential zones” would have to be clearly defined in a way that would end up halting all truck traffic during those hours all over Falmouth, such on route 28 east, which I believe is also a state road. Also, Crane St. is mainly just a bridge. I can’t imagine how this petition can get past the petition stage, but who knows.

    Anyhow it would be a good idea to throw Woods Hole a bone by ditching the plan for the new terminal and just continuing with what is there. That would be a win for everyone.

  3. As a compromise , the town could write into the law that electric trucks would be allowed..
    And yes, for all you “e-deniers”, there are electric trucks, ferries, planes and tractors..
    Toothbrushes too–

  4. Silly. Falmouth may pass a bylaw catering to constituency demands but, it knows it will be trumped by state law once push comes to shove. SSA – an arm of state government much like the MBTA – is close to omnipotent. Have a look at the court’s ruling when Bourne attempted to use zoning to limit SSA. Or look at what the court ultimately said to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission regarding expansion of the Vineyard Haven terminal. Look at the lengths SSA will go to protecting its turf – right Mr. Packer? Drill-down a bit into the number of unlawful zoning bylaws Falmouth has enacted, only to later be deemed unlawful.

    Again, silly. Falmouth need only look at both state and federal legislative district maps to appreciate the futility .

    • Paul– you are absolutely correct about the futility of getting this by law passed and /or enforced. The legality of it is a joke, and it’s just going to enrich a few lawyers. Why does it have to be “them against us?” Couldn’t the steamship attempt to compromise with the people who are affected ? What happened to the concept of respect your neighbor ?
      When common courtesy is thrown out the window– it degrades the lives of both parties.

    • Dennis– perhaps some did, and some of those properties have been in the family since before the word truck had any meaning. And let me ask you to do a little research–
      When did the steamship start offering a 5:30 Am freight boat ?
      Well, I know you won’t bother to look that up, nor would you be willing to post the results..
      Spoiler alert==== 2012.

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