A controversial move allowing hazmat vehicles a new route up and down Commercial Street to gain access to Interstate 93 is on hold, at least for now.
Actually the new route went into effect on Monday, May 17, but a 45-day extension has been granted to the City of Boston by the federal government to justify its ban on Commercial Street.
The route for these vehicles has been diverted to Cross Street where it has been since 2006.
Back in 2006, residents at a public meeting recommended that Congress Street should be used as the route for vehicles carrying hazmat material according to North End resident Nancy Caruso.
Cross Street was selected instead and North End residents and elected officials were reportedly outraged that loads of hazardous materials would be rolling through one of the neighborhood’s main streets.
They claimed the area is just too congested for hauling dangerous materials on Commercial Street.
Until a final decision is made, these vehicles will not be allowed to use Commercial Street as an access to Interstate 93.
The Commercial Street route would allow vehicles carrying hazmat material to pass by a Coast Guard Base, two public baseball fields, two public pools, several parks including Christopher Columbus Park, a public skating rink and bocce courts and many businesses and residential units, State Representative Aaron Michlewitz pointed out to the Review.
US Senator John Kerry and US Congressman Michael Capuano helped push for the extension.
Both State Senator Anthony Petruccelli and City Councilor Sal LaMattina have also raised concerns relating to the Commercial Street route.
Although a reprieve is in effect, the City of Boston must convince the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that a day time ban 7am to 6pm on Commercial Street is justified.
The trucking industry officials condemned the decision to grant the extension, claiming Boston’s daytime ban on hazardous material trucks cutting through the city would force haulers to waste fuel and time driving out of the way.