by Tom Ellis
RENSSELAER, NY: Efforts to close the Waste Connections Dunn construction and demolition debris landfill in Rensselaer continue despite little news coverage of the ongoing public health crisis.
The dump is located on a hilltop at the end of Partition Street, borders the Rensselaer public school campus, a cemetery, and in between Rensselaer and East Greenbush neighborhoods. Interstate 90 passes in front of the school campus; thus the campus, athletic fields, students, staff, and visitors are bombarded from multiple directions by noise, dirt, odors, and fumes. The school should never have been sited near a major highway and the dump never sited next to the school.
During November, the City of Rensselaer submitted a report, Supplemental Comments on S. A. Dunn Construction and Demolition Debris Landfill and Mine, to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (En Con). The report, prepared by the city’s engineer, contained numerous photos of tractor trailer trucks enroute to the dump violating traffic laws.
The report said that at the fully signalized three way intersection of the northern Dunn bridge off ramp onto Broadway, “Most of the tractor trailers observed exit down the ramp and move directly into the right turn lane, either partially or completely, to make the left turn. On some occasions, it was observed that other traffic coming down the ramp and making left turns continues along beside the truck making the left turn which makes for a dangerous situation when both try to turn left at the same time. If the truck does try to stay in the left lane they need to move dramatically into the right lane when they start the turn. This endangers traffic legally in the right turn lane. It does not appear that any left turn movement can be made if they stay completely within the left turn lane. If they try they ride up onto the side walk making for pedestrian safety concerns and doing damage to the sidewalk and brick pavers.”
Essentially the new report documented that there is no way the 5-, 6-, and 7-axle trucks enroute to the dump can travel through the city without violating traffic laws. I have seen these traffic violations many times. Sometimes at the intersection of the Dunn bridge ramp and Broadway, five or six trucks are lined up behind each other, slowing and endangering other drivers. This is often a busy intersection with lots of pedestrians, traffic to and from the Amtrak station, other city traffic, houses, a Dunkin Donuts and a restaurant, a park with a nearby playground.
A few hundred meters to the north, trucks cross a long bridge over the train tracks and then make a sharp right turn onto Partition Street. Every tractor trailer making the turn takes a wide turn crossing into the other lane in violation of traffic laws.
Rensselaer residents and other dump opponents met with Rensselaer Mayor Mike Stammel on December 21 and asked him to have the city police department ticket every truck that violates the traffic laws and to continue doing so. We said it is unacceptable that every tractor trailer heading to the dump violates traffic laws. The fact that this occurs is proof city streets cannot accommodate the trucks and is an excellent reason to close the dump. Mayor Stammel promised to send a letter to the Rensselaer police chief instructing him to have the department ticket every truck that violates traffic laws.
The Rensselaer Environmental Coalition, composed of Rensselaer, East Greenbush, and other residents, remains confident that the Waste Connections dump will not be relicensed. Despite the dump’s operating permit having expired in mid July, the dump remains open, and, as of December 22, the dump permit renewal application remained incomplete.