Metropolitan Boston Hazardous Material Route Designation
In 2009, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA"), in response to a formal request for determination filed by the American Trucking Association and the then Massachusetts Department of Highways (now, MassDOT), issued a preemption determination finding that the City of Boston's hazmat route/process violated federal routing requirements because it had not followed the federal risk analysis criteria for hazmat routing or been subject to public comment and approval. The FMCSA directed the City to conduct a risk analysis on alternative hazmat routes and follow federal law on public participation and routing agency approval.
The City of Boston hired the Battelle Memorial Institute to complete a hazardous material routing evaluation and report which concluded that travel through Boston imposes a greater risk to the public than an I-93/I-95 route. According to the Battelle Report, the proposed routing designation would allow the City of Boston to prohibit the use of City streets in the downtown area for the "through" transportation of Non-Radioactive Hazardous Materials ("NRHM") where there is neither a point of origin nor destination within the City of Boston. The Battelle Report proposal called for the designation of I-93/I-95 as the preferred through route over which such NRHM approaching the City of Boston is to be transported. Within Boston, only shipments to destinations/points of origin located within the City would be permissible, provided the motor carrier applies for and receives a permit from the City.
As the designated state routing agency, MassDOT completed a review of the Battelle Report concerning the proposed routing analysis to ensure that it satisfies the FMSCA routing criteria provided in 49 C.F.R. § 397.71. The FMSCA routing criteria includes, among others, population density, type of highway, type of hazardous material, emergency response capabilities, consultation with affected persons, proximity to schools, hospitals, playgrounds and other sensitive areas, terrain considerations, continuity of routes, alternative routes, effects on commerce, delays in transportation, climatic considerations, and congestion and accident history.
MassDOT held a series of four Public Hearings between August 23 and September 1, 2010 throughout the Metro-Boston area at locations adjacent to the routes evaluated in the Battelle Report. As part of the public hearing process, MassDOT received several comments, questions, and materials on the City of Boston’s proposed NRHM through route. The comments were subsequently grouped into similar concerns by topic and MassDOT worked with the City of Boston and Battelle to generate responses to the common questions which are available on this website.
MassDOT has completed the review of the City of Boston’s “Hazmat Route Evaluation” prepared by the Battelle and the associated comments and questions submitted for the purpose of determining the Non-Radioactive Hazardous Materials (“NRHM”) route designation for the Metropolitan Boston area. MassDOT as the designated routing agency for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts pursuant to 49 C.F.R. Part 397, has determined that all NRHM traffic shall be restricted from the City of Boston surface roadways during the hours of 6:00 AM through 8:00 PM unless a point of origin or destination has been permitted. During the aforementioned hours, MassDOT has adopted a preferred route utilizing Interstate 93 to Interstate 95 to circumvent the downtown area. Under MassDOT’s routing designation, NRHM will be allowed to travel to points within and outside of the Downtown Boston area along the prescribed through route during the hours of 8:00 PM to 6:00 AM. The routes are described in detail in the Notice of Regulation that has been officially submitted to FMCSA for posting in the National Hazardous Material Route Registry. NRHM routing becomes effective on June 13, 2012.