Relieving Downtown from Trucks

March 14, 1992

Trucks are the lifeline of Baltimore's businesses and industries. But when neighborhood streets and downtown arteries become clogged with heavy trucks, tractor trailers and sea container rigs seeking to avoid tunnel or bridge fees, then action is needed. An experiment banning through trucks from an area of Fells Point and Canton south of Eastern Avenue is a start.

Studies have found that Boston and President streets handle amany as 1,300 trucks in an 11-hour period. Many of these through trucks have been using those streets as alternative routes to escape the $4 fee each way at the two harbor tunnels and to avoid random safety inspections which can be time-consuming and result in expensive repair orders. Yet taxpayers constructed costly tunnels and bridges specifically to provide the trucking industry and other motorists with bypasses that would be both faster and safer than the congested streets of Baltimore City.

The six-month experiment with a local truck zone in Fells Poinand Canton was devised by the Mayor's Truck Task Force, a committee representing from government, truckers, business interests and civic groups. If unnecessary through traffic is eliminated from Southeast Baltimore, some of the congestion caused by heavy trucks on Pratt and Lombard streets also should disappear. "I think we can predict that there will be a definite improvement in the downtown area," says James W. Causey, the city's deputy transportation commissioner and the truck task force's chairman.

This experiment comes at an opportune time. Traffic congestioin the downtown area and in neighborhoods leading to it is likely to increase with the opening next month of the new baseball stadium. Meanwhile, the inauguration of the light-rail line will bring streetcars back to Baltimore for the first time in decades. Those streetcars will not move -- unless the general traffic flows.

Trucks are vital for timely deliveries throughout Baltimore. Buheavy trucks unnecessarily cutting through the heart of the city can result only in more restrictions. It is in the trucking industry's best interest to respect the new experimental truck zone in Fells Point and Canton.

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