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Report: heavy-duty truck orders continue to slide
Figures released July 3 by Bear Stearns, a banking, trading and brokerage firm, indicate net new orders of Class 8 heavy-duty trucks continue to fall sharply as slots for pre-October orders fill.

In June, net new orders fell 37 percent to 10,400 after falling about 35 percent in May. Bear Stearns said it expects net new orders “will stay in the 8,000 to 10,000 range as most large carriers have already ordered and/or received the trucks they will use until the issues surrounding the low-emissions engines have been resolved.”

Long Islanders say ‘no’ to rest stop
Residents from a Long Island neighborhood are fighting plans by the New York State Transportation Department to modernize and enlarge a nearby rest area used by truckers. Residents cite health concerns and crime as their primary reason for protests.

Some residents whose homes border the Long Island Expressway (I-495) near Exit 52 believe the rest area should be moved away from their residential community.

“They say, ‘How can you put this in a residential neighborhood?’” NYDOT spokeswoman Eileen Peters says. “But this isn’t some two-lane country road. This is the Long Island Expressway where almost 200,000 vehicles go by daily. If this isn’t a commercial area, what is it?”

The agency has proposed a sound barrier and retaining wall to further shield the community from the rest area and expressway. But, homeowners say they are unsatisfied by the proposal, indicating they will continue to fight until the rest area is moved elsewhere.

The NYDOT says it still is planning to keep the eastbound rest area open. Plans are to upgrade restroom facilities and add about 27 designated truck parking slots. Currently, the rest area doesn’t have any designated spots for truck parking, says Peters.

Despite the NYDOT’s efforts, trucker and OOIDA member Scott L. Roth of East Setauket, NY, says the handful of parking spots proposed by the NYDOT won’t solve the parking shortage on the expressway. “I live on Long Island, so it really doesn’t affect me because I’m close to home anyway, but I feel for the out-of-state guys. Long Island doesn’t have any major truckstops and only a few diesel fuel stops with little or no parking. It’s a shame.”

At this time, Peters says there are no other projects proposed to build additional truck parking on Long Island, but she encourages truckers to call the NYDOT at (631) 952-6633 to share their parking concerns and needs.

—by Keith Goble

Illinois CDL probe produces more allegations
Federal prosecutors in the Illinois license-for-bribes investigation allege Gov. George Ryan was urged in memos 

by his former chief of staff to fire investigators who asked questions about campaign fund raising in Ryan’s office when he was secretary of state, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Scott Fawell allegedly sent Ryan memos in 1994 and 1995, urging him to “shake up” the inspector general’s office where the investigators worked. Fawell, who also was Ryan’s campaign manager, is awaiting trial on federal charges.

The charges stem from the government’s four-year investigation into the selling of driver’s licenses for bribes. To this point, 57 state employees and others have been charged and 45 convicted. The remaining 12 are awaiting trial.

Federal prosecutors allege $170,000 in bribes were paid in return for driver’s licenses, mostly CDLs. The money then found its way into Ryan’s campaign fund.

Ryan has not been charged in the investigation. A spokesperson for the governor, responding to the newest allegations, told the newspaper Ryan doesn’t recollect seeing such a memo or having a discussion with Fawell or anyone else.

No day at the beach for truckers
The Palm Beach County (FL) Sheriff’s new trucking enforcement squad is looking to expand its duties so it can track more trucks. During the past three and a half months, more than 750 citations have been issued to truckers.

The four-man unit took to the road in January as part of Sheriff Ed Bieluch’s Safe Roads Task Force, which says it is also cracking down on speeders, red-light runners and other dangerous drivers.

The sheriff’s truck enforcement officers want to expand inspections this year to include weight violations, which carry hefty fines. The sheriff’s motorcycle and road patrol deputies reportedly are being trained to spot trucking violations and to inspect documents required for commercial loads.

In addition, the sheriff’s office has applied for a federal grant that would add deputies, pay for portable weigh scales, laptops and radios, and certify the unit for more extensive truck inspections.

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