SSA moves forward with a freight boat at 5:30 a.m.
The Steamship Authority will continue to operate a 5:30 a.m. seasonal cargo boat from Woods Hole in 2022, but will also seek bids from companies willing to ship cargo to Martha’s Vineyard from New Bedford or another offshore port. from Cape Town.
In a 4-1 vote Thursday night, with opposition from Falmouth resident Kathryn Wilson, the SSA Board of Directors approved the 2022 schedule and the development of a request for proposals for a freight from a port off Cape Town.
Requesting that the 5.30am ferry stay, SSA chief executive Robert Davis stressed that SSA has looked at other scheduling options, but these will increase congestion rather than reduce it. He pointed out that the SSA has tried to listen to the residents of Woods Hole by only allowing small trucks on the early boats, which don’t have the noisy Jake brakes used by semi-trailers: “By continuing to limit the size of the trucks on [the 5:30 am boat], the authority seeks to minimize early morning noise at Woods Hole despite limiting our operational flexibility for trucks that want to go.
Wilson suggested removing the 5:30 a.m. freight trip, which his Woods Hole constituents have been advocating for several years, but it was a steep climb given the weighted votes of the island’s representatives on the board.
James Malkin, who represents the vineyard on the board of directors, said the 5:30 am freight boats are not “the horror they are described to be” by the residents of Woods Hole. He referred to the “incessant campaign” by the people of Woods Hole “which is in some cases insulting to this board of directors and the leadership of the Steamship Authority. Certainly very bitter, and I am not going to say defamatory, because it is a legal term, but a very aggressive stance against the Steamship Authority.
Malkin said he spent time watching the 5.30am boat from Vineyard Haven, which is open year-round, and described the two ports – Vineyard Haven and Woods Hole – as historically similar to working waterfronts for commercial fishermen, whaling and in the case of Woods Hole, a guano factory.
Malkin said he was open to the idea of a freight service coming from somewhere beyond the Cape, as well as finding ways to get visitors to the island with their luggage and without their vehicles. . “We all seek a balance between economic growth and character or preservation of values,” said Malkin.
Wilson said she didn’t feel the administration and board had heard concerns from her constituents in the past, although she appreciated Malkin’s comments. “It took a long time for Falmouth to be heard in a way that someone like you would listen to, and so there has been an erosion of confidence as to whether the Steamship Authority will react in a significantly different way,” said she declared. .
She said this “creates this difficulty in communication between cities,” and urged SSA to continue with its task force and task forces that are exploring alternatives.
“I’m delighted that we can really talk seriously about releasing a tender,” Wilson said.
Robert Jones, who represents Barnstable, pointed out that Hyannis bears its share of traffic and noise to accommodate ferries to and from Nantucket.
“It is a mistake to think that no one paid attention to Falmouth,” he said in response to Wilson. “If I voted for my passions, I would vote against the 5:30 am boat. I do not vote my passions.
In other cases, the board has received an update on the $ 1.4 million overhaul of the MV Martha’s Vineyard, underway at the Thames Shipyard, according to Mark Amundsen, director of marine operations for the SSA. Martha’s Vineyard is having a new oil purifier installed, an overhaul of her bow thruster and, in the only change order so far, her cargo deck will be blasted and repainted, he said.
The board also unanimously approved two additional round trips per day for the P&B bus service. The bus service will now provide one round trip per day to TF Green Airport in Rhode Island and seven round trips to Logan Airport. The board has also allowed Davis to change schedules as it sees fit, with bus companies renting space to pick up passengers at the terminal.
Davis also reported on the Woods Hole Terminal Project, which is in full swing. He said the new awnings (each priced at $ 2.2 million) were installed with a faulty sealant that caused them to leak. He said they are under warranty and have been repaired by the contractor. The overall project is over budget by $ 2.8 million, Davis reported.
The board met on Thursday to welcome Moira Tierney, who represents New Bedford. The meeting was scheduled for Tuesday.