PulseLine: Papermill truck traffic

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Hello, I’d like to take this opportunity to voice my concerns over the current Truck Traffic situation affecting the residents of Holyoke and Papermill Road. Although I no longer live in that Ward I was impacted by the constant industrial traffic these residents are living with and know exactly what they are going through. Hats off to the individual for writing that thorough Pulseline entry on Truck Traffic that was printed in the paper on March 20th. I can say with confidence those words accurately portray the thoughts of many residents on Holyoke Road and provide suggestions on the right thing to do. Let’s continue to propose solutions, not problem shifting.
To start off on a note of positivity, it was great to see the 24 Hour Truck Exclusion on Papermill road get voted down the other night. Although I understand why the folks on Papermill would want it the fact is that a 24 hour Paper Mill exclusion is completely unfair and unjust to the residents of East Mountain and Holyoke Road. The next thing that should happen is the 13 hour night time exclusion should be eliminated as well. I’m not even sure how that undiscerning ban passed in the first place. Why is Papermill Road given preferential treatment over Holyoke Road?
Everyone knows the trucks should not be on either street but it is downright cruel to push all the traffic onto one road, at any time of the day or night. Papermill has a slower speed limit and a natural curvature that limits how fast these trucks can go thus reducing noise. Most noise comes from the 4-way stop at the intersection of Joseph and Paper Mill. It’s an unnecessary stop in the first place so how about a proposition to remove it and make it a 2-way stop. Holyoke Road, by comparison, has straight sections that allow the trucks to drive at excessive speeds which damage the roads, pose a danger to pedestrians and increase the road noise. Don’t like living near trucks that drive 25 miles per hour ? give it a try when they are doing 40 while banging over potholes and manhole covers at 2am.
The only council member that should be allowed a voice is the one representing the ward. The comments and concerns made by the other members voting in favor of the 24 hour ban were unfounded and not well thought-out. Clearly, they don’t live anywhere near these two busy streets. Perhaps Councilors Allie, Burns and Morganelli should grab a lawn chair and sit on the sidewalk of Holyoke Road during rush hour before making decisions that negatively impact the fate and well-being of the residents living there. Sure, Papermill has a school, but it’s set so far back from the road the truck traffic poses no risk and minimal, if any, noise. The statement regarding the impact on the baseball fields is also irrelevant. When have you attended a little league game or practice during regular business hours ? That field is empty during the workday. The only time people are there are when trucks aren’t even on the road. That is like saying the church on Holyoke Road is a factor…..it’s not. There isn’t anyone there during the workday.
So without sounding like a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) I’d rather focus on the solution. The best plan is for the trucks to get onto Route 20 by going south down East Mountain Road. The alternative is to go North on East Mountain Road onto Route 202. Either direction would require modification to the underpass but it’s the right thing to do and is a permanent solution. Trucks and regular traffic flow would both benefit from this change, especially at the intersection of Route 20 as that underpass is dangerously narrow to begin with. While these are not easy propositions to pass the residents of the two streets would be better served joining together as one voice supporting Councilman Onyski in lobbying for it rather than Papermill unfairly pushing the problem to another neighboring street and removing themselves from the equation. A proposal to the Council and ultimately the Mass DOT would have a lot more influence with a combined 140+ households behind it. It’s time to stop spending taxpayer money on fixing roads that shouldn’t be used by these trucks in the first place. If Westfield wants to remain an Industry Friendly city it’s got to continually invest in the infrastructure to support it. Fix the underpass and it fixes the problem, forever.

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