Route 9 enters Hudson from the south on Worth Avenue, makes a left onto Warren Street to Park Place, makes a right onto Park Place, goes one block to Columbia Street, then makes a right onto Columbia, curves to the left onto Green Street, continues on to Fairview Avenue, where it makes a left turn and continues north. Route 9G enters from the south on Third Street, crosses to Columbia and makes a right, proceeding up Columbia to the intersection with Green, where it merges with Route 9, follows Green Street out to Fairview Avenue, makes a left turn, and continues north.
The dump trucks bound for the port come out of Newman Road, alongside the cemetery. They make a left turn into Route 23B and then roll into Hudson on Green Street. From Green Street they head west toward the river on Columbia Street.
Since the City started pressuring them to do so in 2011, trucks heading for the port loaded with gravel make a left turn onto Third Street and head across town to the "causeway"--the old rail bed of Fred Jones's railroad, which was pretty much the death knell for South Bay back in 1889. When the trucks exit the causeway, they head north to the Broad Street railroad crossing, past Basilica Hudson, kicking up lots of dust as they go, and on to the port.
Because DOT will not allow the trucks to make a left-hand turn onto Route 9G from the causeway, once they have dumped their load at the port, they head back to the quarry on city streets--north on Front Street to Columbia, east on Columbia to Green, and on out Green Street to Route 23B and Newman Road.
At Thursday night's meeting, Council president Don Moore, who chairs the Economic Development Committee, announced at the outset that he wanted to limit the discussion to the state truck routes: 9 and 9G. The four-page meeting agenda, distributed to the committee and most of the people in attendance, included email correspondence from David Woodin, director of the DOT Traffic Operations Bureau, to Chad Weckler, who had contacted Woodin about Hudson's truck route issues in December 2010. That communication summarized the problem:
The Vehicle & Traffic Law allows cities to regulate truck traffic on their streets. However, if a municipal street connects two state highways as is the case of US 9 and other Hudson routes, then the city cannot restrict trucks unless it provides a suitable alternative route. That route typically has to be within the municipal boundaries. Hudson cannot simply dump its traffic into the adjoining communities unless those towns are willing to take on the extra traffic. As have other cities across the state found, the adjoining communities want no part of taking on the city traffic. Therefore, the City of Hudson cannot unilaterally shut down the truck traffic on their streets when they connect state highways because they have no suitable alternative routes to divert the truck traffic to.Quoting the statement that Hudson "cannot simply dump its traffic into adjoining communities," Moore questioned whether the truck traffic through Hudson really is the city's traffic. Committee member John Friedman (Third Ward), alluding to the fact that so many trucks that pass through Hudson are bound for the supermarkets and big boxes of Greenport, suggested that the language needed to be changed. "Greenport," he said, "is dumping its traffic on us."
Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) suggested, from the audience, that enforcement was the way to get truck drivers to go by way of Route 9H but bemoaned that fact that local police are not trained to enforce laws that pertain to trucks.
Audience member Bob Mechling suggested the same solution that had been proposed by Linda Mussmann in April 2012: close one of the two truck routes through Hudson. It's not clear if the two of them had the same truck route in mind for closure. At Thursday's meeting, however, Mussmann had a new idea: allow parking on both sides of Columbia Street. That, she said, would send the message "find another route." Moore countered that the "other route" found by truckers would likely be State Street or Warren Street.
A couple of times during the meeting, reference was made to a grant that has been applied for, from the Department of Environmental Conservation Office of Environmental Justice: $50,000 to assess the impact of truck traffic on the infrastructure, public health, economic activity, quality of life of the city and do a survey of the origin and destination of trucks entering the city. According to Moore, "without that objective data [from the origin and destination survey], we cannot talk effectively with Claverack and Greenport." Word on the outcome of the grant application is expected in about a month.
Although Moore wanted the discussion to stay focused on the state truck routes, the conversation inevitably shifted to the gravel trucks. Committee member Cappy Pierro (Fifth Ward) advocated for two-way traffic on the causeway, maintaining that it would eliminate all gravel trucks on Columbia Street below Third and on Front Street. Pierro speculated that DOT might relax the prohibition on trucks leaving the causeway making a left turn onto Route 9G "if we went to them and promoted it."
This inspired Melissa Auf der Maur and Tony Stone, owners of Basilica Hudson, to speak up in protest. Auf der Maur asserted that trucks shouldn't be anywhere in the city and declared that she would object to having all the dump truck traffic on the causeway. Going to or from the causeway, every truck would pass the Basilica. "Two-way traffic," said Auf der Maur, "is going to ruin our business," which she described, rightfully, as "a huge asset to the city."
Stone objected to the remedies suggested, calling them "out-of-line." "We are pitting parts of the city against each other," he said. When Pierro started to talk about the positive impact for Hudson "if they got the road through Greenport," referring to the haul road Holcim/O&G proposed two years ago, lining up with the causeway and going from Route 9G to Route 9, Stone reacted, "Let's not treat people like they're idiots here." He posited that the "end goal" of widening and lengthening the private road was "to increase volume to the port."
Auf der Maur said she was "scared and frustrated." "The truck thing," she said, "is going to make or break the future of the waterfront." Haddad concurred. "It's going to be almost impossible to pull our LWRP together with gravel dust in place."
Audience member Helen Arrott brought the focus of the discussion to the corner of Columbia and Third streets. She spoke of trucks running up onto the sidewalk because they cannot make the turn. She told how her house on North Third Street, which she claims is older than the city itself, is regularly shaken by the vibrations caused by heavy trucks passing in such close proximity. "If my house were brick," she said, "it would be rubble at the moment." Arrott called for structural engineers "to find out what these streets will bear," saying there are "hollow sewers under the streets." Arrott expressed the opinion that the current volume of truck traffic was inappropriate for "this little ancient town," calling it "a threat to historic properties."
Noah Fischel, who owns the beautifully restored historic building on the northeast corner of Third and Warren streets, took up the theme introduced by Arrott, suggesting that the City should "approach this from a historic preservation point of view," focusing on the destructive impact that truck traffic has on Hudson's historic architecture. He reiterated Friedman's suggestion that we needed to change the language when talking about trucks: it is not Hudson wanting to dump its truck traffic on other municipalities, it is those municipalities that are dumping their traffic on Hudson.
When historic preservation was suggested as a possible basis for freeing Hudson from the tyranny of trucks, city attorney Cheryl Roberts said she knew an expert "who specialized in the impacts of trucks on historic properties" and said she would contact that person.
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