HUDSON — A study for development of a truck route to make Hudson safer for vehicular traffic and cleaner for pedestrians, homeowners and businesses is back on the table after it was shelved for nearly two decades, city officials said Friday.
MJ Engineering & Land Surveying, P.C., of Clifton Park, was selected to conduct a study of the origins and destinations of the truck route using state funding secured by Assemblywoman Didi Barrett in April 2019.
The first phase of the study focuses on the origins and destinations of the trucks.
This phase will cost $48,400 from a $100,000 budget line secured by Barrett through the state Department of Transportation.
“They have good experience and credentials, the scope of work meets our needs, and the cost is a good value,” Mayoral Aide Michael Chameides said. “It’s a bonus that it’s half the available budget so there are funds for a second phase.”
“New York State truck routes traverse the city of Hudson and deleteriously impact the community’s quality of life and economic vitality,” Chameides said. “The study will collect data and propose alternative truck routes. Using the study, the city of Hudson will then work with surrounding towns, Columbia County, New York state and a variety of stakeholders to build consensus for modification and improvement to the truck route.”
City Public Works Commissioner Peter Bujanow, 4th Ward Alderman John Rosenthal, whose ward includes the truck route, Chameides and Mayor Kamal Johnson vetted half a dozen firms in July and August before settling on MJ Engineering.
“We had a sense they were going to give us the best value,” Rosenthal said. “Their on-the-ground approach is what we were looking for.”
“It has been a long-time issue in the city of Hudson,” Bujanow said of the truck route, adding he grew up living close to the route.
Residents of Hudson have complained about the rumbling sound of large trucks in residential areas for a long time, he said.
“What we know so far, preliminarily, most, not all, most, of the large tractor-trailers coming through the city of Hudson do not stop in Hudson,” Bujanow said. “They’re traveling through the city rather than delivering in the city.”
Many water, sewer and gas lines in Hudson are aged, Bujanow said, and that worries officials about the toll heavy trucks are taking beneath the city streets.
“A lot of our infrastructure is old and the weight of the trucks and how often they travel through the infrastructure is a concern,” Bujanow said.
Moving the truck routes out of Hudson is not as simple as it sounds, Bujanow said, so the city wants to work with surrounding municipalities on a solution instead of inappropriately pushing Hudson’s burden on other areas.
The city has asked MJ Engineering to provide several suggested options to move forward, Bujanow said.
The entire project will take about six months, Chameides said.
“After this phase is complete we will reassess the options, timeline and budget,” Chameides said. “The next phase will likely involve a combination of further study of the preferred alternate route, upgrades of the preferred alternate route and discussions with various stakeholders to get approval to change the official designation of the truck route.”
The funds were granted in April 2019 for the 2019-20 state budget following conversations between Barrett and Hudson officials, the Department of Transportation and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to Barrett’s website.
“I was thrilled to hear that Assemblymember Didi Barrett successfully secured funding in the NYS budget for a much-needed and overdue study of truck traffic in and around the Hudson area,” former Hudson Mayor Rick Rector said last April.
The Common Council approved the contractor on Sept. 15.
“The truck route through the city has plagued us for years, damaging our infrastructure and endangering lives,” Common Council President Thomas DePietro said. “The study should provide us with data that can help us move forward.”
The large trucks on Hudson streets causes damage to the environment and infrastructure in Hudson, Rosenthal said.
“My ultimate goal is getting data so we know what’s happening beyond what we see,” Rosenthal said of the study. He, like others in Hudson, hopes to remove large trucks from city streets.
Chameides said he thinks it is likely some or all of the alternative routes will move truck traffic out of Hudson.
“If Hudson is not the destination, why send them through the densest part of the county, where houses are close to the road, a high number of pedestrians, significant commercial activity and significant underground infrastructure?” Chameides said.
Rosenthal said since the study is the first phase of a larger project, it will involve logistical collaboration with surrounding communities.
“To ask for help, we’re going to need real numbers,” Rosenthal said.
City officials issued a call for proposals in June for engineering companies to conduct the study.
Hudson residents have voiced concerns about the truck route for years, Chameides said adding the 2002 Hudson Comprehensive Plan called for a truck study.
“For a long time the high volume of large trucks traveling through dense residential neighborhoods has been an issue,” Johnson said. “This study is the first step in creating solutions to an age-old problem.”
MJ will collect data from truck routes determining size, number, entry and exit points and routes, Chameides said.
“Then we can determine how many trucks are traveling through Hudson without any stops or destinations within Hudson and focus on providing alternate routes for those trucks,” he said. “Then, we can analyze alternate routes that would enable those trucks to get from their origin to their destination. Then review the benefits, disadvantages and barriers of each option. Then, we can create a plan to implement the best option or options. There will be reports and public engagement at key points throughout the project.”