Some Haverhill residents are asking a local truck driving school to put the brakes on using their neighborhood roads for training purposes, but solutions may be elusive.
Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien said Tuesday she has received numerous complaints from residents about loud and constant noise caused by 16-wheelers driving through residential areas.
“I think the problem is trucks, especially trailer trucks, are trying to avoid our main streets and the lights involved to get to different places. It could be because of the onset of apps such as Waze, and it shows them a shorter way to get some place and they’re avoiding Main Street and all the lights. They avoid 97 and these trucks, very, very large trucks, are going through residential neighborhoods that were never supposed to withstand that kind of truck traffic,” she said.
Two areas particularly affected by the problem are Mill Street and Hilldale Avenue near the New Hampshire border.
Hilldale Avenue resident Kathy Srybny-Bucci told the Council the problem is the New England Tractor Trailer Training School, which moved to Haverhill’s Hilldale Business Park, is using local roads to teach novice drivers.
“The school runs seven days a week, sometimes passing my home as early as six-o’clock in the morning and as late as 10 o’clock at night, seven days a week. Bringing a tractor trailer school into an already congested area, narrow roads, no sidewalks for residents’ safety and excessive speeding is a recipe for disaster, in my opinion,” she said.
Councilors discussed a number of potential remedies including the installation of sidewalks, creating truck exclusion areas, reducing the school’s hours and sending trucks north to New Hampshire.
Councilor John A. Michitson said the problem is a difficult one, however.
“Apparently, there are some restrictions. Some of the drivers can’t leave Massachusetts, so they can’t drive on New Hampshire roads and the routes that they take the test with are the routes that they have to use and those are in Massachusetts,” he explained.
Councilor Michael S. McGonagle also noted state law overrides city ordinances. For example, he said, the city was forced to remove weight limit signs not specifically authorized by the Commonwealth.
New England Tractor Trailer Training School announced in 2018 its move from North Andover to a 22.5 acre-parcel in Haverhill. At the time, the company said approximately 600 students train with the school to receive their commercial driver’s licenses.
The Council agreed unanimously to send the issues to the Traffic and Safety Committee for further review.