Boston's Second Chance


The city of Boston received a 45 day extension of its daytime ban on trucks carrying hazardous materials cutting through the city. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) just lifted Boston city's ban on Hazmat movement last Monday (May 17, 2010), due to the repeated failure of its city officials to justify the ban on Hazmat as required by law.

Boston transportation commissioner, Thomas J. Tinlin, was skeptical that the 45 day extension would give the city enough time to complete a safety analysis of its ban as required by the federal government. The city actually asked the government for a nine-month extension, which FMCSA denied.

Officials from the trucking industry condemned the decision to grant the extension of the ban by FMCSA to Boston city. Trucking industry officials say that the ban on trucks carrying hazardous materials -- cutting through the city -- would force haulers to waste fuel and time using longer routes.

American Trucking Association (ATA) vice president Richard Moskowitz argued that, "By taking the direct route, you're reducing the number of vehicle miles traveled and reducing the likelihood a truck will be involve in an accident." He also said that by giving the truckers permission to pass through Boston during the day time will also reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Boston Globe reported in 2006 about Mayor Thomas Menino's administration halting all daytime permits for trucks passing through Boston carrying hazardous or flammable materials, under the pressure from House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, a Commercial Street resident, and his North End neighbors. The problem was that the federal government must approve Hazmat routes, and Boston never consulted the Department of Transportation about it.

It was ruled, by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, that the restrictions were illegal since the city officials had not completed the required analysis of their impact on public safety and surrounding communities, in November.

The federal government, however, gave the city six months to perform the analysis with a warning that their request for restrictions are going to be voided if they failed to deliver. According to federal officials they have granted Boston city an unprecedented grace period.

The city requested more time to complete its study, in March, but the chief of the Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Anne S. Ferro, rejected the city's request. A letter was sent, from Ms. Ferro, to the city and state officials stating that they had "failed to show that they have taken significant measures to achieve compliance with the federal standards."

With the extension, trucks carrying hazardous materials can travel through the city only between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. Trucks cannot pass through Commercial Street in the North End; trucks must drive along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway to reach Interstate 93.