For the past two years a long-haul commercial truck has been parked for days at a time several times a month alongside the Ashland Cemetery on Morton Street or alongside the Ashland High athletic field on Morse Ave. Both Morton and Morse are residential streets, approximately 30 feet wide with parking permitted on both sides. The truck in question is 8 1/2 feet wide with side mirrors extending out another two feet, so that the parked vehicle occupies about a third of the width of the street. With vehicles parked on the other side, the open passage for two-way traffic is something like 12 feet for most of the 75-foot length of the truck.

In addition to restricting traffic flow, the parked truck significantly reduces visibility. When the truck is parked at the East Main end of Morton, drivers turning from East Main onto Morton cannot see cars approaching the intersection from Morton. And pedestrians stepping into the street at either end of the parked truck are unable to see approaching cars until they are virtually in the lane of traffic. Any way you look at it, the presence of the truck on the street for long periods of time raises the level of risk.

The risk is particularly problematic on Morse, which is the access street to the student parking lot at Ashland High School. At lunchtime and at the end of the school day large numbers of student cars use Morse to leave the school, often loaded with young people and driven at unsafe speeds. At the same times the street is full of groups of students on foot. To significantly narrow the street and reduce visibility under these circumstances seems an unnecessary escalation of risk.

In response, a group of neighbors on Morton and Morse have approached the Traffic Safety Commission with a proposal to draft an ordinance banning the overnight on street parking of long-haul commercial trucks in residential areas. Many cities have such an ordinance, and for good reason. Late night arrivals and early morning departures generate sleep-disturbing braking and motor noise. Not only is a truck higher than your house unsightly when parked across from your front window, but an unattended cargo vehicle left on the street is a tempting target for vandals and thieves, and the presence of an unknown cargo and a known large amount of diesel fuel less than fifty feet from your bedroom poses an unnecessary risk.

The Traffic Safety Commission will be considering this proposal at their May meeting, scheduled for Thursday, May 24 at 7 p.m. in the City Council chamber. Anyone with an interest in this issue is encouraged to attend and share their views.

Jim Martin