Truckers take fuel protest to Pennsylvania Capitol

| 3/31/2008

Organizers of a fuel protest Monday, March 31, at the Pennsylvania state Capitol building in Harrisburg said the turnout and support from the public exceeded their expectations.

Estimates of the total crowd by the protest organizers put the head count at about 400. A Harrisburg Bureau of Police spokesman said their department put the vehicle attendance count at 72 trucks and 26 personal vehicles.

A convoy consisting of mostly bobtails gathered at dawn at the Harrisburg Gables travel center before embarking to the Capitol with horns sounding. The event lasted about an hour.

Organizer Mark Kirsch, an owner-operator and OOIDA member from Myerstown, PA, said he wanted to draw attention to how skyrocketing fuel costs and excessive tolling are driving truckers out of business.

“It went really, really well,” Kirsch told Land Line. “We had a loop going around the Capitol the whole time we were on the steps.”

Kirsch said a few people made informal speeches. Topics included fuel prices, fuel taxes, the proposed tolling of Interstate 80, and a proposal to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike to private investors.

Another group of truckers that held a one-day shutdown March 24 in Vandergrift, PA, joined in the rally organized by Kirsch. That group was led by owner-operator and OOIDA member Donald Waltenbaugh, who is from Vandergrift.

The truckers say their next move is to draw attention in Washington, DC. The truckers were also hoping to get an audience with presidential hopefuls while the candidates campaigned in Pennsylvania ahead of the primary election.

– By David Tanner, staff writer