Long Island rest area expansion gives truckers the cold shoulder

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 4/25/2016

If you drive the Long Island Expressway, you know expanded rest areas with restroom facilities have been needed for years. Travelers are tired of going to the bushes. Then why has the community fought expanding those rest areas for 20 years?

A bigger rest area has simply meant more trucks would be parking there. Even proposing the parking for cars and tractor-trailers be clearly marked has failed to persuade area residents to support expansion.

It appears that travelers will get a break, however, and the controversial expansion project is going forward. It may not be a grand Welcome to Long Island center that many wanted, and the community still opposes it, but the plan is going to happen. It will be smaller and have law enforcement there at all times. It will have restrooms. The locals did get their way in one respect: The approved plan cuts truck drivers totally out of the deal.

Last week, OOIDA Life Member Thomas Bremen sent Land Line a clipping from local New York publication Newsday with a headline “LIE rest stop plan gets modifications.” The report explains major renovations at a rest area between Exits 51 and 52 on the Long Island Expressway in Dix Hills, including improved lighting, 24/7 video monitoring, on-site law enforcement presence, and 135 parking spaces.

Sounds good until you get to this part:

“Trucks will no longer be permitted to park at the rest stop. (NYSDOT Commissioner Matthew) Driscoll said the DOT is exploring other options for trucks but did not elaborate.”

NYSDOT Director of Communications Gary Holmes told Land Line that the state was concerned about the safety of truck drivers, too. But how much was vague.

“We are committed to safety improvements, which provides all users of the LIE a safe place to park and rest,” he said. “So while our plans to transform Exit 51 would not permit trucks, we are exploring alternative options.”

Holmes pointed out that there is a plan to provide truckers with alternate spaces. Discussions on where that will be are ongoing.

The issue of truck parking was a major topic at the recent board meeting of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association in its national headquarters in Grain Valley, Mo. Two of the board members are from New York.

Board Member Terry Button is an owner-operator and resident of Rushville, N.Y. He’s also a county legislator. Button said “New York actually likes trucks, and many areas appreciate what trucks do for the economy. But people like these Long Island residents and the ones in North Bend, Wash., aren’t willing to be part of the truck parking solution.” 

Button says they only want their gas, their food, and their toilet paper – and they want truckers to get on their way.

“That’s how these people think. I only want to know you when I want to know you. I don’t care about your problems. They are not my problems, and I don’t want to hear about it.”

Board Member Lou Esposito of Duanesburg, N.Y., is an owner-operator. He, too, is involved in his community as a city council member. “We are well familiar with the ‘not in my back yard’ attitude,” Esposito said.

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