Canadian truckers threaten Michigan's safety, official says

| 4/9/2002

A Michigan county commissioner, concerned about Canadian truckdrivers hauling garbage from Toronto via the Blue Water Bridge-Port Huron entryway, wants Michigan Gov. John Engler to involve the National Guard to "take back our freeways from outlaw truckers."

"I call upon the governor and lieutenant governor to immediately launch an emergency training program to train state police troopers to properly police the truckers," said John D. Nickola. "I further call upon the state government to activate certain Michigan National Guard Military Police personnel to assist the State Police Highway Patrols..."

At issue is truck traffic routed through Michigan, with much of it on Interstate 69 through Genesee County. Nickola says a daily increase from 85 to 137 trucks traveling along I-69 occurred after Toronto refused to continue its landfill life and instead decided to truck its waste to Michigan. The Michigan Department of Transportation reports 1,753,339 trucks crossed the Blue Water Bridge in 2001 compared to 670,063 trucks in 1990.

Nickola told Land Line Magazine, "I'm not anti-Canadian or anti-trucker. I'm a lawyer and I've represented truckers. This is a safety issue. The speed limit is 55 mph but each day we have people going 80 and 85 mph ... Right now, there's no law enforcement on the interstate - none. I can statistically predict there will be a catastrophic event on I-69 within the near future."

Nikola said National Guard personnel would help the 11 Motor Carrier Safety officers in the area who currently patrol a total of 12 counties. State Troopers sometimes patrol expressways, Nikola explained, but they are not trained to do truck enforcement, so they leave that job to the Motor Carrier Safety officers.

-- Dick Larsen