WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN AMAZON LAST MILE FACILITY MOVES INTO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

While both Amazon representatives and the Gutierrez Company deny it, the 150,000 sq. ft. proposed facility at 0 Bartlett St. would be the perfect size for an Amazon last mile facility (see 2/22/21 Select Board meeting, 1:14 mark). These facilities are the last stop before packages arrive at your house, the ones in which large numbers of vans leave in the mornings on their way to deliver packages to customers. One can only assume that the time the vans are leaving may coincide with when students are arriving at Algonquin.

The Boston Globe recently reported on the rise of warehouses throughout the state as e-commerce has grown exponentially. Many municipalities are inundated with 24/7 traffic from both vans and tractor trailers, especially from last mile facilities.  From the 3/15 article:

'Amazon has 20 of them {last mile facilities} in Massachusetts ― 10 of which opened since the start of 2020 — and 14 more are in the works, according to the council’s report. When they’re all up and running, Amazon will occupy 12.1 million square feet of warehouse space in the state, most of it along or inside Route 495.'

Certainly, the 0 Bartlett parcel would be desirable to Amazon for both it's size (150,000 sq. ft) and the location (along Route 495).

 

In response to the growth of warehouses throughout the state, 'the The Metropolitan Area Planning Council recently released a 64-page report on the spread of e-commerce in Massachusetts. It focused on the front lines of the industry, the last-mile distribution centers that serve as way stations for packages dropped off overnight by the truckload and ushered out each morning by fleets of delivery drivers.' (Boston Globe, 3/15/21) We applaud the efforts of the MAPC to get a handle on the influx of warehouses across the state and agree that efforts to mitigate the traffic and safety issues will need to be addressed on both a regional, state and national level.

Let's look at some other Massachusetts towns with last mile facilities:

 

Milford, MA
While the situation in Milford has improved a bit, the town continues to have issues.

 

According to a 12/12/20 Wicked Local article:

 “...it feels like Milford has become a dump site for Amazon,” selectmen Chairman William Buckley said.... Local officials and the Police Department have heard a steady stream of complaints about Amazon drivers clogging roads and intersections, flouting traffic laws and being rude.

 

Selectmen said they’ve heard complaints about – and witnessed themselves – vans pulled to the side of Rte. 109, creating hazardous obstacles for drivers to pass, as well as processions of vans and tractor-trailers bringing traffic to a standstill at key intersections. Buckley said groups of the vehicles overwhelm gas stations, and he’s concerned about allegations of illegal parking terminals....“They’re adding to public safety concerns and impacting the quality of life of our residents.” 

Dedham, MA

Dedham residents, with support of their Planning Board, are actively engaged in discussions with Amazon representatives about the current traffic and safety problems the Amazon facility has brought to their town even as Amazon seeks to expand its presence. Residents and board members haven't held back with their complaints and critiques, mostly of Amazon truck and van drivers.(Dedham Patch, 10/9/20)
 

As Amazon expands into suburbs in an effort to get us our packages even faster, the proximity of Amazon warehouses near suburban neighborhoods is wreaking havoc on narrow, residential roads not designed and ill-equipped to handle the tractor trailer and van traffic.

According to Bloomberg news: 
A typical (Amazon) hub can generate more than 1,000 vehicle trips each day, often in areas where roads are already congested.  
 
According to ProPublica (9/5/19):
Amazon’s promise of speedy delivery has come at a price, one largely hidden from public view. An investigation by ProPublica identified more than 60 accidents since June 2015 involving Amazon delivery contractors that resulted in serious injuries, including 10 deaths. That tally is most likely a fraction of the accidents that have occurred: Many people don’t sue, and those who do can’t always tell when Amazon is involved, court records, police reports and news accounts show.
 
As Amazon has sought to gain independence from companies like UPS and Fed Ex, it has hired inexperienced flex and contract drivers, it provides them with little training, and then it frequently has them drive in unfamiliar areas on a tight schedule.  While Amazon seeks to control the delivery schedule and route, it also appears to outsource responsibility for any accidents or negligence on the driver's part.

Across the Country, Cities and Towns are Grappling with the Impact

In Robbinsville, NJ, the mayor Dave Freid: is threatening to sue Amazon over the traffic that's clogged area roads after a senior official failed to show at a meeting to discuss the problem...In a statement on the township website Fried says:  "Children cannot get to school, residents cannot pull out of their driveways, and this has become a very serious public safety issue.  According to police department crash data, there have been 25 accidents that can be attributed to workers coming to and from the Amazon warehouse over the past six weeks, compared to just one accident over the previous six weeks." (fox5ny.com) 

 

In Sacramento: Each morning, a caravan of gray vans rumbles down pockmarked Power Line Road near Sacramento International Airport, turns left onto the Garden Highway, then zigzags on other rural roads to Interstate 80....Gibson Howell of the Garden Highway Community Association says he’s counted as many 32 Amazon trucks in a row.... residents complain that Amazon’s vans should not be driving through their neighborhood. They say the vans could take Bayou Way, a freeway frontage road, to the I-5 airport interchange one mile away instead of the convoluted 5.5-mile route along the Garden Highway. (The Sacramento Bee, 2/26/20)