An agenda for an SSA public hearing

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To the Editor:

This letter was sent to Steamship Authority General Manager Robert Davis.

We, the undersigned, are writing to renew our strenuous objection to the 5:30 am freight trip from Woods Hole proposed by the Steamship Authority, concerning its 2023 freight operating schedules between Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard.

We object to the SSA scheduling of the 5:30 am early morning freight from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard and its multiple negative public health impacts on Falmouth and Woods Hole residents, caused by predawn noise as well as the ever-increasing threats to public safety resulting from increasing freight truck traffic over Falmouth roads leading to and from Woods Hole. Alternative scheduling proposed by the Falmouth transportation committee would address this matter. The Falmouth select board has repeatedly requested that the 5:30 am freight schedule be eliminated. The consistent failure of the SSA to consider the impact of its schedules on the residents of this community is unacceptable, and must change immediately.

We request that you conduct a public hearing, to be held within 14 days of receipt of this petition on the proposed 2023 freight operating schedules, per Section 15A of the Steamship Authority’s Enabling Act.

In addition to the 5:30 am freight scheduling from Woods Hole, the following topics will be addressed during the public hearing:

 

  • Failure of the Steamship Authority to address the health and safety consequences of Steamship Authority’s continuing increase of freight truck traffic (56,522 freight trucks were carried through W.H. terminal in 2021, an increase of 6 percent since 2019) on Falmouth and Woods Hole residents; that includes freight truck and passenger bus idling at Woods Hole terminal, diesel soot from such a high concentration of diesel trucks, and the creation of unsafe conditions on our roadways;
  • Failure of the Steamship Authority to take adequate steps to shift non-time-sensitive Vineyard freight (landscaping materials such as sod/gravel/rocks/mulch/large trees, septic, demolition, construction materials, trash) to an off-Cape port as an alternative to increasing freight capacity through Cape Cod port communities; the currently issued request for proposals for off-Cape service appears “designed to fail,” and has too many restrictive conditions; for example, the request bans the future off-Cape freight carrier from taking automobiles to and from the Vineyard in the event of extra space on the carrier’s freight decks;
  • Failure of the Steamship Authority to address in any significant way traffic backup and parking issues in Woods Hole village;
  • Failure of the Steamship Authority to limit in any significant way its use of the northernmost slip (No. 3) at Woods Hole terminal, despite the completion of the Southernmost (No. 1); we observe that the No. 3 slip is being used as actively as the other two slips; it was promised that the No. 3 slip would only be used actively on an exceptional basis;
  • Failure of the Steamship Authority to negotiate an agreement with the town of Falmouth to cap the growth of the number of freight trips it will operate from Woods Hole village (the town of Barnstable has had such an agreement in place since 1997);
  • Failure of the Steamship Authority to convert its passenger bus fleet from diesel to electric; the SSA currently does not have any electric buses; in comparison, Vineyard Transit Authority already operates 16 electric buses;
  • Other SSA-related topics of concern to Falmouth residents.

 

Nathaniel Trumbull
On behalf of 160 Falmouth residents