Idling truckers get big tickets at Hunts Point Market

By Donna Carlson, staff writer | Thursday, August 09, 2001

Seeking relief from sweltering temps is no excuse, say officers who are handing out tickets at the Hunts Point cooperative market in South Bronx to truckers idling more than five minutes. If the muggy weather isn't enough to make a trucker hot, getting a $1,000 ticket should do the trick.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is cracking down on truckers idling while waiting to unload, both inside and outside the market area despite new electrification technology being installed in the staging area.

According to Pennsylvania trucker Lonny Turner, officers from Environmental Conservation have been randomly ticketing truckers even while backed up to the docks. "I shut down when I saw them coming," he said. "But others were not so lucky."

On July 23, owner-operator Tony George of Class I Transport received a ticket for $1,000. According to George, the temperature gauge in his Freightliner registered nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit when two cops in an unmarked car drove into the market area where he was waiting to back into a dock at D'Arrigo Produce. One officer climbed into his cab to look around without an invitation. "He had an attitude," said George. "He told me if a state cop says to do something, you do it."

The other officer who issued the ticket, Anthony Panipinto, told George the law states if the temperature is over 25 F, you are not allowed to idle more than five minutes for any reason, but reefers are exempt. "We make an exception for produce because it will spoil," he told George.

An officer who would only identify himself as "Dorrett" at Environmental Conservation headquarters in New York confirmed tickets were being given out on a hit-or-miss basis. "They drive through, if they see someone breaking the law, they ticket him. Section 6 of the New York State code 217-3.2B states that trucks may not idle for more than five minutes when the temperature is above 25 F," he said.

Dorrett was asked how truckdrivers were supposed to keep cool while trying to sleep or wait in the staging area during peak summer temperatures. He replied, "The law doesn't address high temperatures. If they idle they break the law. It's a Class I misdemeanor in New York punishable by fine." Dorrett went on to explain that if the trucker fights the $1,000 ticket in court, he rarely pays the original amount of the fine.

Meanwhile, IdleAire Technologies has a plan in place to install 32 units at Hunts Point. On Aug. 6, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and Knoxville, TN-based IdleAire Technologies Corporation CEO David Everhart unveiled the first application of the company's electrification technology.

"We've begun the installation and have four units fully functioning," said Tom Badgett, executive vice president of IdleAire. "Plans are in place for 28 more." Badgett explained that the company is working in conjunction with Clean Air Communities, a new non-profit organization. Clean Air Communities is a partnership between New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Consolidated Edison, and Northeast States Clean Air Foundation. Other New York City community-based organizations are also involved in the project, as well as the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM). The Hunts Point project is the first to be funded through NRDC. "We're excited about this installation," Badgett said. "The average time truckers wait at the Point is four to 12 hours," he said. "Now for about $9.75, they don't have to worry about tickets."

Billy Doublebower, of Owasso, OK, is one broker who handles produce heading into Hunts Point. When contacted about IdleAire being installed at the market, Doublebower said he was not aware of the technology. "But," he said. "I guess truckers would rather pay to hook up than get a $1,000 ticket."

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