The possibility of sending solid waste off-Island via barge was discussed Tuesday at the monthly Steamship Authority governor’s meeting, held in the library conference room at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.
Tisbury and Oak Bluffs, who together form one of Martha’s Vineyard’s two refuse districts, are evaluating the feasibility of transporting solid waste via port-to-port container freight service between the Vineyard and New Bedford.
In the past, refuse has been shipped to the mainland and then hauled to refuse facilities. But the towns recently entered into a new waste disposal contract with Greater New Bedford Regional Refuse Management District
Tisbury director of public works Fred LaPiana told the governors Tuesday that the towns are looking at cost-efficient ways to transfer solid waste to New Bedford, chiefly barge service, which would be less expensive than the current method. Steamship Authority terminals in Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs could potentially be used for the operation.
As it is now, the towns transport waste via Steamship Authority freight boat on a daily basis. The waste is then delivered by truck to a facility in Rochester, Mass.
Mr. LaPiana said the proposal would mean traffic reduction on boats and in Falmouth. “If we’re able to start this transportation endeavor, even on the smallest of scales, it would open up doors for further opportunities,” he said, adding that it could help the cost of delivering goods to the Island and the cost of disposing of rubbish.
“For first time in my long career here . . . I am honestly encouraged . . . that we in Falmouth could see some relief, and it’s not that we want relief for the sake of relief, we want relief where it makes sense for all of us,” said Falmouth governor Robert Marshall.
“If in fact it gets your costs down, and in fact it gets trash off the streets of Woods Hole and Falmouth, we’ve got a home run here.”
“We look to the Steamship Authority for your partnership and your leadership on this issue,” Oak Bluffs town administrator Robert Whritenour told the governors.
In other business, treasurer Robert B. Davis said June traffic for the Steamship Authority is up 5.7 per cent, with traffic to the Vineyard up by 4.7 per cent. Car traffic to the Vineyard is up by 4.6 per cent, he said, and truck traffic is down 3.9 per cent.
The governors approved a proposed winter and spring 2013 operating schedule. The winter schedule (Jan. 1 to April 9) for trips to Martha’s Vineyard start three days earlier and ends eight days earlier than it did in 2012, and the spring schedule (April 10-May 15) will start eight days earlier and end five days earlier than it did in 2012.
The M/V Sankaty or M/V Katama will operate on triple crew basis to provide increased vehicle-carrying capacity after 5 p.m. because the M/V Island Home is scheduled to be in repair status during the spring, and the 5:30 a.m. trip from Woods Hole and the 8:30 a.m. trip from Vineyard Haven will no longer be designated as hazardous trips during the spring. Hazardous trucks will be booked on the 7:30 a.m. trip from Woods Hole and the 11 a.m. trip from Vineyard Haven to free space for vehicles on the 8:30 a.m. trip from Vineyard Haven with Island Home out of commission.
“I do have one question: how come the Vineyard has so many more boats than Nantucket?” joked Nantucket governor H. Flint Ranney.
“That question is out of order,” chairman and New Bedford governor John Tierney responded.