The only topic of discussion at the Common Council Economic Development Committee meeting last Thursday was how to eliminate the truck routes through Hudson. Joining the committee for the discussion were city attorney Cheryl Roberts; Sheena Salvino, executive director of HDC; Duke Duchessi and Bill Roehr, from TGW Consultants; and Nick Melson, chief of staff for Assemblymember Didi Barrett.
The meeting started out on a disheartening note, with a report from Roberts about relevant case law. In 2009, the City of Lackawanna tried to prohibit trucks with a gross weight in excess of 10,000 pounds from traveling anywhere in the city except on two designated routes. By doing so, they reduced the number of truck routes through Lackawanna from three to two. The City was sued by Baynes Freight Contractors whose trucks used the eliminated truck route to deliver milk to a Sorrento cheese factory in an adjoining municipality, Buffalo. In December 2011, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, ruled that the city ordinance eliminating the third truck route in Lackawanna was invalid.
As happens whenever the problem of trucks in Hudson is discussed, there were lots of suggestions, most of which seem never to be acted on. Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), himself an attorney, suggested the City needed to "go to the legislature." "Design what we want the law to read [regarding municipal control over transient truck traffic] and go to the legislature," he recommended.
Don Moore, Council president and chair of the Economic Development Committee, shared a recommendation from our new code enforcement officer, Craig Haigh, who used to be a long haul trucker: signage. The assumption is that truckers don't like negotiating Hudson's narrow and congested streets and would happily go a few miles out of their way to avoid them. The problem is, of course, figuring out an appropriate place to put the signs. If they are placed at the city limits, it's too late for truckers to opt for another route.
Alderman David Marston (First Ward), who apparently has been tasked with ferreting out and assembling data, shared the information, from the New York State Department of Transportation, that Green Street is the busiest street in Hudson--much busier than Columbia Street. This is not surprising, considering that Routes 9 and 9G through Hudson converge on Green Street and all trucks moving through the city--including those carrying gravel bound for the port--travel along Green Street, but it is interesting, considering how many complaints about the truck route have to do with Columbia Street. Case in point, Alderman Ohrine Stewart (Fourth Ward) suggested, as others from the Second and Fourth wards have before her, that, to inconvenience the truckers and encourage them to seek routes around that city, the truck route be moved from Columbia Street to Warren Street.
Roberts wanted information, from DPW and other sources, to measure the impact of Widewaters, a.k.a. Greenport Commons, on truck traffic and on the city's infrastructure. "They are getting the tax revenue from all the development," said Roberts, "and we're getting the traffic." Unfortunately, most people didn't have the prescience to see this coming. In January 2007, when the Greenport Planning Board was reviewing the Widewaters project, this writer, then an alderman representing the First Ward, introduced a resolution in the Common Council finding that "the traffic impacts from the project are likely to have significant impact upon the City of Hudson, its infrastructure, historic buildings, and quality of life" and recommending and requesting that the Town of Greenport Planning Board issue a Positive Declaration under SEQRA, direct the applicant to do a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, and list Hudson as an "interested agency" in the SEQRA review. The Common Council did not pass the resolution. Most of the aldermen then on the Council shared the opinion voiced by Doc Donahue, then as now Fifth Ward alderman, that Hudson shouldn't try to tell Greenport what to do.
Friedman made the suggestion that the Hudson police be trained to "monitor the trucks and all the laws that apply to trucks"--the idea being that if truckers think there's a likelihood that they will be stopped, detained, and possibly ticketed in Hudson, they will go to whatever lengths necessary to bypass the city to reach a destination on the other side. If enforcing the law could dissuade truckers from traveling through Hudson, it seems there are things the police could be doing already to achieve this goal. Stewart reported complaints about trucks speeding and barreling through yellow lights without even slowing down. Stewart's comment inspired Friedman to suggest that the City impose higher fines for moving violations on vehicles with more than two axles.
The search for relief from the tyranny of trucks in the city continues.
COPYRIGHT 2013 CAROLE OSTERINK