Informational Meeting Turns Stormy
As Attendees Object To Truck Traffic
By PARKER FISH • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
MILFORD – In an open forum intended to educate the general public, XNG co-founder and Vice President Matt Smith faced an angry general public that wanted nothing to do with the cavalcade of trucks the company is sending across Otsego County daily.
“This is just a waste of my time,” said Hartwick resident Dan Rowley, one of several residents unable to get their questions answered as the gathering in the Milford Central School auditorium.
Smith gave no indication that XNG plans to slow down truck traffic, perhaps as many as 80 trucks daily, through Otsego County between Oneonta and Richfield Springs on Routes 205, 80 and 28. They carry fracked natural gas from Northeastern Pennsylvania to a company plant outside Little Falls, where it is injected into the Iroquois Pipeline that serves southern New England and Long Island.
Smith was joined on a panel by Justin Zimmerman and Tony Signorelli of the state Department of Transportation, State Police Sgt. Rob Kidder and county Emergency Services Director Art Klingler.
With one truck having toppled off Route 205 Sept. 12 in the Town of Otsego, Smith opened by outlining safety precautions XNG follows to ensure the safety of drivers and other people on the roads. “XNG tracks and monitors every single truck at all times,” he said. “All of our vehicles are inspected three times a day.”
But his description did little to satisfy the crowd. “I came here to ask questions, not hear a bunch of blow-hards,” said Rowley. “I moved here for quality of life, and now I’ve got 80 trucks passing by my house every day,” said Rowley.
Smith said XNG has gone further than it normally does to accommodate Otsego County people along the route. “We talked with the communities at the beginning and end of our route,” he said. “But we don’t typically consult with communities in between on our routes.”
The other members of the panel came to the defense of XNG, citing their past interactions with the company and its compliance with regulations.
“The ratings that this company has received through our inspections, the violations they have received are very negligible or none at all,” said Sergeant Kidder, who oversees commercial vehicle traffic on Interstates in the state. “From XNG’s standpoint, they have always been very cooperative with us. We have had no issues with them.”
“There is an alternative route away from state roads, for you to get your trucks from Montrose to Little Falls,” said John Niedzialkowski of Hartwick. “It’s Interstate 81 to I-90.” This route would keep XNG trucks on Interstates, but would cost more for the corporation as this route is marginally longer and adds the expense of tolls. “Is there that much more of an expense to run 81 to 90 as opposed to 205 to 28?”
After the forum, Smith said, “I think that we always want to listen to our communities, but there are some basic economics that drive the route choices that we make. For the current customer at this current time, this is going to be our primary route.”