Friday, August 5, 2022

The Topic Was Trucks

The nine-member Common Council ad hoc committee tasked with addressing the issue of trucks in Hudson met for the first time last night. The committee is made up of five councilmembers (Margaret Morris, Amber Harris, Ryan Wallace, Dewan Sarowar, Mohammed Rony), two county supervisors (Abdus Miah and Linda Mussmann), one member of the public (Donna Streitz from Our Hudson Waterfront), and Mayor Kamal Johnson. Of the five councilmembers, only three were present at the meeting--Morris, Harris, and Wallace. Sarowar and Rony were absent. At the meeting, it was clarified that only the five councilmembers are voting members of the committee. 

The meeting began with selecting a committee chair. Morris proposed herself, a proposal that was supported by Ryan and Harris. Morris then defined the goal of the meeting: "to set out what we are going to try to accomplish." She then identified the topics: (1) the truck route; (2) the issue of trucks regularly traveling off the truck route, west of Third Street.

Morris opined that the committee should be thought of as a task force or a work group rather than "a committee discussing policy" and repeatedly stressed the need for action. In the course of the meeting, Morris gave "homework" assignments to four of the members: 
  • Harris is to gather quantifiable data about air quality to demonstrate the connection between trucks and higher rates of asthma in Hudson
  • Johnson is to speak with the Code Enforcement Office and the Hudson Police Department about enforcing the code as it pertains to the truck route and weight limits
  • Streitz is to speak with MJ Engineering, the group that did the truck study, about getting more detailed data on the impacts of Option 6 and Option 12, the two alternate routes favored by those responding to an online survey conducted in April 2021
  • Morris is to speak with the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) to determine what regulations regarding trucks are imposed by the state and what is within the purview of the City of Hudson
Morris commented, "Every time we meet, we come back having done our homework." The members with homework assignments are expected to report back at the group's next meeting. It is uncertain exactly when that meeting will be. At one point, it was agreed that there would be a regular meeting on the first Thursday of each month, which would mean the next meeting would take place on Thursday, September 1. Later, Morris said the next meeting would be on the Thursday after Labor Day, which would be Thursday, September 8.

About 34 minutes into a meeting that lasted for about 50 minutes, Mussmann brought up the elephant in the room: the haul road. "If we are considering the truck route and Abdus's petition," Mussmann said, "then the haul road should be considered as part of the conversation. . . . It is a remedy that would help Abdus's petition immediately if it were to actually happen."

Morris responded, "I want to be very careful not to interfere with anything before the Planning Board." She then outlined an elegantly simple way that gravel trucks returning to the quarry could avoid passing through the Second Ward. Since DOT prohibits trucks coming off the haul road to turn left onto Route 9G, they could just turn right, go south on 9G to the roundabout, and then follow the truck route back through Hudson. This is something they could have been doing since the roundabout opened back in October 2019.

Mussmann countered, "There is an alternative being proposed, and to erase it from the discussion is not fair." Claire Cousin, county supervisor representing the First Ward, added: "From listening to what supervisors from other towns have said, there is not much for them to entertain until there is some resolution around the haul road."

Streitz suggested that the committee needed a mission statement, or purpose statement, and read a draft she had prepared. The following is what Gossips was able to transcribe of that statement. The ellipses indicate spots where what she said could not be deciphered with certainty. The statement can be heard in the videorecording of the meeting, starting at about 40:11:
We as Our Hudson Waterfront think it is super important that the City take as an official position that the truck route needs to be moved for the sake of countless Hudson households and businesses. The existing truck route is an environmental and infrastructure disaster. There are viable alternatives, and while we will work with our neighbors, we will not allow them to hold this crucial change hostage . . . and will politely refuse to undermine our own Planning Board and zoning laws and will work hard to convince the state to move the truck route. . . .
Morris said she thought it was important that, instead of a mission statement, the group have a charter to establish the scope of work for the group. She asked Streitz to circulate her draft statement to the members of the committee so they could discuss and come up with a document at the next meeting.


  1. Really sorry to hear the ignorant comments from Cousins and Mussman. The haul road issue should be kept entirely separate from the effort to get trucks off Columbia St. Anyone who has been paying careful attention to the Colarusso proposal knows that the company projects a 471% increase in heavy truck traffic to the waterfront. And worse, legal counsel for the company maintains that the Hudson Planning Board has no statutory authority to put ANY upside limit on Colarusso's traffic. The company has sued the City twice, and for 4+ years they refused to provide the most basic truck traffic information that would enable the Planning Board to make an informed decision. There is zero economic upside for the City of Hudson in having a gravel dump and truck traffic on our waterfront, so one wonders why any civic official would be supportive. And by the way, Linda Mussman is on video standing in front of the Hudson Planning Board declaring that we should get all the trucks out of the City and off the waterfront. Here is her statement:

    “I never ever endorsed the idea of having trucks through, or use, the haul road. Just to clear up any confusion about what people think about what I think about the Waterfront. I do not think the trucks belong on the Waterfront. Period.”

    1. Peter, I've written things nearby that are not at odds with the excellent points you make. To take only one, the city's truck issues must not be conflated but distinguished. - Timothy

  2. I'm guessing that Linda Mussman and Claire Cousins haven't even bothered to look at the truck study numbers provided by M & J Engineering. If the Colarusso haul road was built, the gravel trucks would be inter-acting at right angles with 13,060 vehicles PER DAY on Routes 9 & 9G. And then after passing thru a protected wetland, the trucks would cross the railroad tracks where 28 trains per day come thru Hudson. This scheme is idiotic, and if we had a Planning Board with any sense and a backbone, it would have been dismissed years ago.

  3. It is worth noting that African-American and Bengali folks are far and away the most frequent and enthusiastic users of the waterfront. So Mussman might want to consider whether we really want to take Colarusso's noxious truck traffic and impose it on the waterfront.

  4. The continuing effort to conflate the Colarusso and truck route issues is growing tedious. This is merely the company, through its friends, pressuring the City to get what it wants—as is running trucks through the 2nd Ward rather than doing as Alder Morris suggests. Beyond that, it’s important to emphasize that that Colarusso matter is before the Planning Board, not the Common Council, and that the Board’s review of the company’s expansion plan is both legally mandated and fully warranted, given the potential impacts.

    If “compromise” means allowing the company its proposed two-lane truckway, this will threaten every other use on the Hudson waterfront. The high-capacity road will create a massive increase in truck traffic and gravel loading, with all the additional noise, dust and danger that entails. This industrial use, largely mechanized and with little need for additional manpower, will do nothing to increase employment in Hudson while dampening nearby development that will—all while making public enjoyment of the waterfront park far more difficult.

  5. It's the same crowd circulating the easy conflation (trucks = trucks) who cynically present their position as being more open to reasonable "compromise."

    About five years ago I had a falling out with Zachos on this very point, informing him that the development of the LWRP, which he wasn't in Hudson to witness, was and is the precedent compromise in these matters. By simply ignoring the grand compromise of 2011, I told him he was just "moving the goalposts" and making himself look reasonable in the bargain.

    This attitude persists and has grown bolder. Whether such people are being stupid or cynical, it's a position so facile and self-congratulating that it's seemingly irresistible even for those who'd have been scandalized and injured by it a decade ago.

    When Colarusso Ventures bought the South Bay and waterfront in 2014, its eyes were wide open to the property's new zoning districts and new conditional uses (all and everything), as well as the study of alternatives and their respective compromises concerning the private road. These were found in the city's recently adopted waterfront program (LWRP).

    Why, then, in its first Environmental Assessment Form to the city's Planning Board in April 2016 (for the "relocation of an existing roadway across the South Bay Causeway") did the applicant claim that the proposal was a "permitted use under the zoning regulations"? Answer: because it worked! Less than four years after the zoning was amended, the Planning Board was totally flummoxed by the claim. It took years for them to correct the EAF.

    I give great credit to the Colarusso strategists that they exploited the full range of Hudson's stupidities when they sent the LWRP straight down the memory hole.

    Granted, the LWRP (and its GEIS) are often tricky documents to understand, but for those who took part and remained reasonable throughout (as in, being open to compromise to get things from adversaries who were also open to compromise), no new compromises in 2022 can possibly account for the exhaustive deliberations that took place between a host of adversaries from 2008 to 2011.

    Given this documented history which anyone can study at the City's website (menu item "LWRP"), a new "haul road" is simply out of the question.

    Today, anyone who speaks of new "compromises" while ignoring the grand compromise of 2011 should be exposed as either a cynic or a useful idiot. Unfortunately in Hudson, that covers just about everyone! Indeed, the Colarussos understood city residents all too well.

    1. Probably the simplest way to respond to the call for compromise is to say, OK, what exactly is the compromise? Because the only additional compromise I can think of is that Colarusso gets its two-lane road, ramps up volume over 473% over 2019, and does Hudson the grand favor of pulling trucks off the streets, which it could do tomorrow WITHOUT the compromise. Oh yes, and it gets to wreck every other potential use of Hudson's waterfront district. Wow! What a deal! Where do we sign?

  6. It's worth noting that Colarusso has no operating permits, and no grandfathered status, as affirmed by a NY State Supreme Court. The company is before our Planning Board just like any other new applicant. So why in hell would Hudson welcome an abusive gravel operation that imposes huge downsides on the City with no corresponding upside? We should all be ashamed and embarrassed that this circus has gone on for so long.

    1. Of course you're 100% correct.

      I've concluded, though, that Americans in general no longer comprehend how governments and laws work, and have lost all understanding of their own roles vis-a-vis government.

      That's how we got a whole class of expert managers who believe they're supposed to run everything for us. Then people who join government look to the experts for everything.

      That's what's been so wrong and mishandled about this case for years because, otherwise, you have explained the situation perfectly.

      We're surrounded by followers of the expert class who, themselves, have no hands-on knowledge of the issues. They make it up as they go along. We're on a ship of fools and no one can understand your words. It's
      a tragic misunderstanding of government by the elected and appointed officials within that government. I feel ashamed for them.

  7. "Of the five council members, only three were present at the meeting--Morris, Harris, and Wallace. Sarowar and Romy were absent."
    (From Gossips article above)

    Alderman Sarowar and Alderman Romy are the elected Common Council representatives for the 2nd Ward. As a 2nd Ward resident that lives on NYS Truck Routes 23B/9G in 2nd Ward, I find it depressing, that they would be absent for this first Committee meeting that was triggered by our 2nd Ward Supervisor Miah's first petition or any action (with a much appreciated assist by Dorothy Heyl & Columbia County Democratic Committee) about trucks going off Truck Rte. by staying on Columbia St. west of N.3rd.