Mello Truck Videos Capture the Georgetown Planning Board’s Attention

Monday May 10, 2021

GEORGETOWN – The town’s Planning Board meeting last week might have been billed as An Evening of Dueling Truck videos.

Trucks turning a corner do not usually have people mesmerized. But trucks entering onto and exiting the two-lane Carleton Drive to state Rte. 133 were the star attraction at the meeting,

In the town’s continuing consideration of a proposed 500-ton transfer station, G. Mello Disposal Corp. presented its video of a drone-shot footage that showed tractor trailer trucks making the sharp turn at the intersection.

Shot from above, the trucks easily made the turn, staying in the right-hand lane as each navigated the intersection.

When it was time for members of the public to speak, opponents Kathy Birmingham and Jon Samel showed the board unstaged videos and photos of large trucks, including a Mello trash truck, making the same turns.

In contrast to the Mello videos, these trucks, which were delivering products to businesses on Carleton Drive, swung widely into the opposite lane, where it is likely that trucks and cars leaving the businesses or the proposed transfer station would be waiting to exit onto Rte. 133.

The videos, shown by Samel, were taken by a motion-activated wildlife camera suspended in a tree on the west side of the roadway near the intersection. The camera, when activated, took 30-second shots.

Videos from both camps proved controversial. Opponents of the proposed 500-ton transfer station claimed Mello’s consultants shot the video on a Saturday morning, when there was less traffic on Rte. 133, and that the trailers the trucks were hauling were empty, making it easier to navigate the tight turn.

The Samel-shot videos were of trucks bringing heavyweight goods to his American Power Co. or Cambridgeport. There was also one Mello truck. These trucks did not negotiate the turn well. The trailer on the back of the trucks often were pitched sharply as the truck rode over a large crown in the center of the roadway.

In a few videos Samel labeled “What if,” a large truck swung into the far lane, blocking an exiting school bus. Others showed trucks blocking other vehicles.

Mello attorney Nancy McCann claimed Samel had manipulated these videos.

Samel denied it, explaining in a letter to Planning Board chairman Harry Cortiglia that the video was a split screen and showed a truck entering Carleton Road and other vehicles, including the school bus, trying to exit the road.

The school bus shot was blocked by an entering truck and had to back up to let the truck straighten up and pull into the right-hand land, Samel said. He combined the two videos to show what happened.

“They were not altered, monkeyed with or manipulated,” Samel said.

The Planning Board members have scheduled a visit to the proposed site of the new transfer station for 9 a.m. on May 8.

Town Planner John Cashell told the Planning Board that Carleton Drive is in disrepair. Built in the late 1970s, the road has not been maintained well, and the town will have to consider upgrading Carleton Drive, he said.

The Mello proposal offers to repave the roadway.

Consulting engineers plan to drill holes into the roadway to take core samples that will determine the makeup of the subsurface and depth of the road.

The engineering firm said the state Department of Transportation has rated the intersection an A and F levels. Entering the intersection is ranked an A, while exiting is ranked an F.

All traffic to the transfer station will use Rte. 133. About 30 percent will come from the west, while the balance will come from the east, including significant traffic going to and from Interstate 95, the engineers said.

In another issue, the exit ramps for the interstate are also rated an F by the DOT, even before the new transfer station was proposed, the engineers said.

In a chart presented to the Planning Board, Mello estimated there would be 94 new vehicle trips, including 59 roll-off container trucks, 10 packer trucks and 14 transfer trailers per day as compared to the existing transfer station on East Main Street.

Mello projected that there would be two additional resident vehicles per day, carrying about 20 pounds of trash each.

Samel pointed out a discrepancy on the chart, which predicts that residents’ trash would increase from 3 tons to 4 tons per day. At 20 pounds per vehicle, Samel said that means there would be 100 additional cars and trucks per day at the transfer station, not two.

The Planning Board meets again on the Mello proposal at 7 p.m. on June 9.

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