Steamship Authority to Keep Early Woods Hole Freight Run Next Summer

Courtesy of the Steamship Authority.

WOODS HOLE – The Steamship Authority will continue 5:30 a.m. freight trips from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard next summer.

The board of governors for the ferry service approved next year’s schedule last week, which includes the controversial early morning trips.

Several village residents have expressed concerns over the freight trips due to the noise generated by the large trucks.

The Steamship Authority staff proposed a draft version of the schedule earlier this year which were essentially the same schedules that ran during 2018 and 2019.

The schedule was advertised and the authority received a petition from 50 Falmouth residents who opposed the 5:30 a.m. freight trip and asked for a public hearing to express their concerns.

A hearing was held on September 9 and included comments from individuals on both sides of the issue.

Steamship staff reviewed the public comments and prepared a report.

“Staff still felt that there was a valid reason to be continuing to operate that 5:30 trip and we presented that to our board for approval,” said Robert Davis, the Steamship Authority general manager.

The staff also recommended the creation of a long-range transportation task force which will include the towns of Falmouth, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to discuss transportation issues.

“It’s a regional issue and we need to have people from both sides being able to be involved in these discussions,” Davis said.

“The City of New Bedford needs to be involved as well.”

Davis said there should also be a working group to address what measures could be made to mitigate some of the noise issues reported by Falmouth residents.

The Steamship Authority has limited the size of the trucks that will be allowed on the 5:30 a.m. trip.

“We did find studies in which larger vehicles make more noise than smaller vehicles,” Davis said.

Trucks must be under 40 feet in length to make the early freight trip.

“Those end up being, by and large, the multi-stop delivery trucks – the food delivery trucks and things like that,” he said.

The trucks are also not allowed to arrive at the terminal before 5 a.m.

Companies are also notified that drivers should be considerate of neighborhood residents and actions should be taken to reduce noise as much as possible.

“These are steps that we can be taking and trying to see if there is a solution that works for all sides,” Davis said.

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