New York City studying possible changes in truck routes

| 8/11/2003

Trucks may find themselves banned on more streets in New York City and may face additional enforcement efforts to keep them on truck routes in the wake of a New York City Department of Transportation study that is now under way.

The New York City DOT announced recently that it was studying the existing truck route network in all five of the city’s boroughs with a goal of making sure trucks stay on designated routes and do not improperly use residential streets.

News 12 The Bronx said the study would also determine whether additional streets in the city should be off-limits to tractor-trailers.

The department has conducted a series of public meetings through July with members of the public, and indicated in a statement that local businesses would also be consulted regarding how the truck routes affect their operations.

The statement announcing the community meetings included questions such as “Are you concerned about truck traffic in your community?” and “Do you think trucks are inappropriately utilizing your community streets?”

The current effort to review the truck routes really started five years ago, according to Keith Kalb, a public information officer with the New York City DOT.

At that time, the city’s effort to look at truck routes generated considerable criticism from members of the public and elected officials. The controversy was further inflamed after a young girl was run over by a truck in the Hunts Point area.

The city recently restarted the process, this time with an eye toward greater public involvement.

“The study was done in response to elected officials and community groups showing interest in truck issues and congestion in the city,” Kalb said. “Clearly, this is a major quality of life issue for many New Yorkers.

“The department realizes the importance of trucking in the city and the dependence upon it to move the goods in and out of the city,” he added. “Hopefully we can benefit all parties involved.”

Kalb said the DOT had met with a number of groups from the trucking industry. However, the list of trucking entities contacted by the department primarily included groups that represent the carrier side of the industry.

Further contact with trucking interests is planned, Kalb told Land Line, including a survey and possibly focus groups. A statement from the city’s transportation department said the project’s later stages would include “enhanced outreach to the trucking industry.” Better signage and improved truck route enforcement were also listed as possible outcomes.

Meanwhile, Kalb stressed that more input would be sought.

“People have to remember that this is a year long study and everything is not, and cannot be done at the same time,” he said. “Yes, there will be truck and business outreach, and actually these groups can help us spread the word.”

The New York City study isn’t the only effort in the state to crack down on truck routes.

The state’s Assembly and Senate have approved a bill – sponsored by a New York City legislator – that would increase penalties for truckers who violate designated truck routes in cities with a population of one million or more.

Under A1433, sponsored by Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, D-Brooklyn, the minimum fine would be raised to $200 while the maximum for repeat offenders would be $2,000. Additionally, violators could face imprisonment.

The bill was delivered to the governor ’s desk July 17.

--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor

Mark Reddig can be reached at