Truck Trouble at Sumner and Seaver Streets

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

On the evening of November 7th, a semi-truck making a delivery to Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina allegedly damaged a fence at Brophy Park and a neighbor’s car attempting to turn from Sumner Street onto Seaver Street.

According to a police report obtained by the East Boston Times, a witness and the accident victim stated seeing the truck struggle with the aforementioned turn.

The report also indicates that a redacted party observed the truck hitting the victim’s vehicle, which had been parked in front of 12A Seaver Street. Moreover, the report states that the officer observed damage both to the victim’s car and the fence, which was described as “concaved in.”

The report also detailed that a redacted party stated that the driver of the truck fled the scene after photos of the truck were taken.

The next day, November 8th, police responded to a call at the Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina, where the shipyard’s Head of Security communicated to the police that overnight security staff had identified a delivery truck with damage that stayed overnight.

When questioned by police, the report indicated that the driver of the truck said they had been operating the truck the night before and were aware that they hit the fence around Brophy Park. However, the truck operator “denied having any knowledge” of hitting a parked car.

The report continued, indicating that due to the observed damage to the truck and the circumstances of the original call, the BPD Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit was requested to respond to inspect the vehicle.

Upon inspection, the vehicle’s brakes were observed as defective, and it was placed out of service, according to the report.

This incident highlights an issue continually plaguing East Boston: truck traffic. A neighborhood resident, Mary Cole, expanded on this problem in email correspondence with the East Boston Times.

“Large 18-wheeler trucks making deliveries to the East Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina are a continuing problem for our neighborhood. The narrow streets are not appropriate for truck traffic,” wrote Cole.

She expanded on the subject, explaining that there have been incidents at places like Cottage, Orleans, Webster, and Marginal Streets.

Another resident, Michael Dwyer, also spoke about the issue of truck traffic in the neighborhood, especially on Marginal Street.

“It’s a big problem on Marginal Street specifically. Marginal is a dead-end street — it dead ends at the shipyard, and there’s no other way that 18-wheel trucks can come in and out of there,” said Dwyer. 

He also spoke about how there is not enough room on the street for two trucks to pass each other and how the way trucks maneuver currently backs up traffic, “I’ve got pictures of traffic driving the wrong way up Cottage Street because the trucks are blocking the road — it’s a disaster waiting to happen,” said Dwyer.

State Representative Adrian Madaro also acknowledged the truck traffic issue and the incidents that occur not only in East Boston but also in other areas around the city, like Storrow Drive.

“These things unfortunately happen, and it’s not acceptable when it does, and there absolutely needs to be a recourse,” said Madaro.

In addition to both Dwyer and Cole demonstrating their feelings about truck traffic in the neighborhood currently, they also raised some concerns about projects in the area exacerbating the problem.

Dwyer spoke specifically about his concerns about increased traffic associated with parking included in Phase II of Piers Park, and both he and Cole shared concerns about the planned expansion of the Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina and the potential for increased truck traffic.

However, regarding the shipyard’s role, Marshall Greenland, Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina’s General Manager, said, “We are not calculating any anticipated increase in tractor-trailers as a result of our increased vessel repair and water transportation type work.”

“Most of that comes over the water, which is why we’re looking to build bigger lifts and better infrastructure so that we can get those boats out of the water,” he added.

Greenland also explained that the shipyard has partnered with the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) on traffic management plans for the yard. “So as we work through this plan, we’ll continue to update and develop our mitigation efforts,” he said.

Greenland went into some current mitigation efforts, including ensuring shipyard tenants contact their vendors regarding proper truck routes. He also spoke about updating truck route signage and working with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) to protect truck routes.

“Events like last week, we’ll send out an email to all of our tenants just making sure that they’re aware of what happened, just restating ‘please reach out to your truckers, let them know this happened, send them again the truck routes that are used to get into the shipyard,” said Greenland.

While it seems like it would be impossible to totally prevent incidents like last week’s from happening in the future, Madaro made it clear it does not mean preventive measures will not be explored.

“It’s something that we’re actively working on to try to increase signage, get the word out there better; one thing that’s being explored is how we can better work with the GPS companies to make sure that the GPSs are reflecting the most appropriate route for an 18-wheeler,” said Madaro.

“Do I ever think they can be fully eliminated? Perhaps not, but we can certainly do our best to try to minimize them because it’s not acceptable for public property to be damaged or private property to be damaged.”

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