Long Islanders say "no" to rest stop

| 6/27/2002

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 somewhere more appropriate. "The DOT wants to build this at the expense of the people who live here," one angry resident recently told news reporters. "Truckstops don't belong in a residential community."

"They say, 'How can you put this in a residential neighborhood?'" DOT 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.

Earlier this month, a motorist was killed after rear-ending a semi parked on the shoulder outside the rest area. The trucker was parked there because the rest stop was filled.

"Trucks need to have a safe harbor to pull off the expressway," Peters says. "They are just squeezing in right now."

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.
--Keith Goble