Truck Ban on Blanchard Road

Residents on Blanchard Road between Concord Avenue and Grove Street (which lies in Cambridge, but on the Belmont line), have expressed an interest in having a ban on truck traffic.

According to the state Department of Transportation, there is not a ban presently in effect on this road segment.

Although local communities have been delegated authorization to install traffic control devices, provided they meet the requirements of MassDOT, MassDOT retains the approval authority over any heavy commercial vehicle exclusion or speed zone before they can become legally enforceable. An initial check with our Traffic Engineering Section reveals a permit is active for Blanchard Road in Cambridge (copy attached), however, not in the area you have questioned.

The original permit, B-2115, was issued on Feb. 5, 1974 as a temporary 6-month exclusion due to a construction project in the area. At the time the permit expired, the City requested, and was granted a permanent exclusion under permit B-2155a. However, this is from Concord Street to the Belmont Town Line….. It does not include the portion of Blanchard south of Concord Street which continues to Grove Street, the section you are interested in. According to our files, a Heavy Commercial Vehicle Exclusion was never approved for that section of Blanchard Road. The City requested a “blanket night time exclusion” back in 2001 for 505 roadways in Cambridge. We issued a permit for about 460 of the local roadways, but eliminated the collectors and arterials, because they are more important roadways that merit individual studies due to potential impacts (diversion of trucks) on to other roadways without exclusions. Blanchard Street is classified as an urban collector, and thus was eliminated from the blanket permit.

Under MassDOT regulations, a ban may be imposed only after the identification of an acceptable alternative route. The alternative route must lie wholly within the same community (Cambridge) or must have the approval of any neighboring community. See page 11 and 12 of these regulations. Additionally, certain traffic counts and other data must be submitted about the proposed ban.

The City of Cambridge is presently collecting the necessary traffic counts and will need to either identify a Cambridge alternative route or negotiate with Belmont. There are few, if any, alternative routes in either Community which are entirely non-residential. So, it may not be easy to identify an alternative route that will be more acceptable than Blanchard Road.

Based on these facts, Senator Tolman, Representative Hecht and I sent this joint letter re Blanchard Road Truck Ban to Blanchard Road residents who had contacted us about this issue. Of course, all of us are eager to help in any other way possible and happy to meet to further discuss the issue.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.