Taking care of the roads
To see how important such a screening system is, we need only look to Pennsylvania, which is already experiencing the adverse affects of a purely weight-based solution imposed by the state on the roads it owns in Wayne County. Howls of protest are being heard from local businessmen who can’t afford to post bonds and, therefore, have to take the long way around to get to where they need to go. One example that came up at a recent meeting of the Wayne Conservation District was the owner of a quarry in Prompton, whose trucks can no longer drive the straight five-mile route from his shop to his quarry. Instead, trucks have to go all the way down to Honesdale and drive back up, a distance of over 15 miles.
In contrast, the MMTF solution is based on thresholds that are determined by a combination of weight and number of trips. As part of the initial setup process, existing traffic levels have been measured and will be used as a baseline for acceptable levels going forward. The new bonding system will be triggered whenever any entity proposes a new “development” (the technical term used in the documents), that is, any construction, commercial or industrial activity that will need to be served by additional road traffic. The already existing systems of permitting for projects in the area—whether by the towns themselves, as in special exception permits; the Department of Environmental Conservation; water withdrawal permits by the Delaware River Basin Commission; or permits from any other regulatory source—will, in effect, serve as the alert system to notify the towns that they should confer with the party in question to ascertain the expected traffic, see if bonding is warranted and strike any necessary agreement.
Without having yet seen the details, it sounds to us like the general approach is smart and workable. After the mud fights in Shohola, the Town of Delaware’s recent (hopefully temporary) abdication of its own home rule rights and the Town of Callicoon’s reluctance to allow its own citizens in on its comprehensive planning process, it’s nice to see an example of local government that makes us proud. The towns should soon be making the MMTF documents available to the public, and we suggest that you have a look at them, attend the public hearing (we’ll publish the date as soon as it’s announced) and be a part of this truly effective self-governance.