Months ago residents of the North End/Waterfront community, based on the number of hazmat trucks buzzing up and down neighborhood streets, publically declared this situation a major public safety problem and organized the North End/Waterfront Hazmat Task Force to try to stop what they felt was an accident waiting to happen.
Several meetings were held at the NEWRA, NEWNC and a major public meeting hosted by Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina was held at the Battery Wharf Fairmont Hotel.
Close to 200 people attended the public meeting along with elected officials who expressed their negative opinion about hazmat vehicles passing through a neighborhood with routes that pass by baseball fields, a public pool, churches, a Coast Guard Base and many residential units.
A very popular decision was recently handed down by the State restricting hazmat vehicles from driving on city streets from 6am to 8pm.
Hazmat trucks not doing business in Boston will have to use Route 128, avoiding Boston, now that the long awaited decision by MassDOT, the State’s Transportation Authority has been determined.
The State plans to advertise the new route for 30 days and the new route will go into effect June 13, 2012.
Reportedly, the state officials are still considering ways to ban the trucks during the night hours as well.
“This is a victory for the people of Boston,” Mayor Thomas Menino said. “We have worked hard to prevent hazmat vehicles without a destination in the City from using our local streets as a cut through for traveling between Northern and Southern points in the Commonwealth.”
The Mayor thanked Senator John Kerry, Senator Scott Brown, Congressman Mike Capuano, members of the State Legislature including the North End Representatives on the Hill and Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina.
In an official statement, MassDOT said, “Working closely with state and local officials, residents, businesses and other stakeholders, we have determined that a daytime ban on hazmat vehicles is in the best interest of the more than 1 million residents, workers and visitors to the City during the day. We will continue to review nighttime hazmat routing in the region.”
Both neighborhood groups, NEWRA and NEWNC participated in the anti-hazmat vehicle opposition.
Councilor LaMattina said, “It took a while but the end results was worth it. Hopefully a full ban on these vehicles will occur in the near future.”
Senator Anthony Petruccelli said, “It’s a great step in the right direction to avoid a major accident that could create damage and loss of life.”
Representative Aaron Michlewitz noted that, “Anytime the City or State can support the banning of dangerous cargo anywhere possible is the right thing to do.”