I went to the Greenport Planning Board meeting on Tuesday night, as did others—Patrick Doyle, Ellen Thurston, and Christopher Reed—with an interest in the O&G/Holcim plan to use the old railroad bed from the quarry to the waterfront as a truck route. There's a report about the meeting by Mike McCagg on ccSCOOP, but there are a few things not included there that should be mentioned here.
I think it's fair to say that the Greenport Planning Board doesn't seem entirely pleased with the proposal before them, and Planning Board member Michael Bucholsky is most vocal in his concerns. He's worried about heavy truck traffic crossing the major thoroughfares into Hudson from the south. He's worried about protecting the Town of Greenport's aquifer. He's worried about the proximity of the proposed industrial road to the new high-tech fish farm, Local Ocean. It had been speculated that at Tuesday's meeting the Planning Board would determine that the O&G/Holcim application was complete and schedule a public hearing. But they didn't. Instead they asked them to come back next month with current traffic counts for Route 9 and Route 9G, a better explanation of the proposed road itself, and some indication of the impact heavy truck traffic might have on the aquifer.
Some interesting information surfaced during the course of the meeting. For one thing, O&G/Holcim seems to have upped the number of the trucks that will use the route. I seem to remember the number being 70 loads a day. On Tuesday night, O&G's Patrick Prendergast spoke of 80 loads a day--14 trips per hour made by seven drivers in seven trucks. He said it takes two days of this level of activity to load a barge, implying that the route would only be used when there was a barge at the deep-water dock. He also indicated that hauling aggregate did not occur in winter, which struck me as somewhat disingenuous since only a few days earlier, while walking my dog in the early morning, I had witnessed from the PARC Park on Warren Street two huge dump trucks, such as those used for hauling gravel, heading west on Columbia Street, one right behind the other. And not just the number of trucks but the size seems also to have increased. After making reference to tractor-trailers and being called on it, Prendergast admitted that a "mix" of vehicles would be used--both dump trucks and tractor-trailers.
We also learned a little more about the road itself. From 9G east, it will be two lanes, each lane 12 feet wide, with shoulders. (The picture accompanying this post shows the "road" heading east from 9G as it is today.) Going west from 9G, through the South Bay along the "causeway," it will be one lane "with turnouts." One wonders what etiquette will govern which truck--loaded or empty --has the right of way.
There was also some interesting mention of Hudson at the meeting. Don Alger, chair of the Planning Board, said that he had met with the mayor and "his staff." (Who, beyond Cappy Pierro, constitutes the mayor's staff?) Algers acknowledged that there were "citizens who don't want this," but Prendergast countered by saying that BFJ "considers it one of the better routes." The board concluded that they are interested in "opening up communications with the City of Hudson."
On the subject of moving aggregate from the quarry to the river, a friend pointed out recently that all the arguments and counterarguments of today are the same as they were back in 1874 when the people of Hudson had to put up with wagons hauling stone through the city from Becraft Mountain to the river. The problem, he concluded, was that the limestone deposit is in the wrong place. So it would seem. On the other side of the river, cement companies have given up on major limestone deposits because the New York State Thruway was built on top of them. I guess the existence and well-being of our little city falls short of representing the same level of hindrance.