NYC Council committee rethinks resolutions

| Tuesday, April 15, 2003

The New York City Council's Transportation Committee has stalled two proposals aimed at keeping truckers from driving through the city's neighborhoods. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the New Jersey Motor Truck Association have criticized both proposals.

“With the attitude of the City Council toward commercial trucks, they'll be lucky to find toilet paper in their local stores,” Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president, said. “Like truckers need more reasons to avoid New York.”

Gail Toth, president of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, echoed Spencer's sentiments.

“If they keep this up, nobody will deliver to New York,” she said. “New York doesn't exist without trucks; all the food comes from the Jersey side of river.”

Int. 344, introduced to the council Jan. 8, would require truck owners to provide drivers with truck-routing sheets and certified color-coded maps depicting the legal through routes and local truck routes. New York City must certify the maps as correct and up to date. The ordinance specifies “truck owners,” which would make owner-operators responsible for their own maps.

For not providing the maps, owners could shell out $250 for each violation. If the truck owner fails to provide the truck-routing sheet, it will cost $150 for each violation.

“They'll probably sell the maps to us for $100 or something,” Toth responded. “New York City only changes its maps every day; how can they be up to date?”

After overwhelming opposition from the trucking industry at the council's Transportation Committee hearing, the panel had second thoughts and held the proposal aside for further investigation.

“I think they didn't realize what they were asking for,” Toth said. “They realized they'd gone too far. They were not going after our guys that were delivering; they were just pissed off at the (construction trucks).”

The second proposal, Resolution 407, calls upon the New York State Legislature to pass A11305 and S7387, which would amend the vehicle and traffic law to increase fines and impose drivers' license penalty points for violations of truck route signs. The Legislature's Web site had no information regarding A11305 or S7387.

This resolution accuses truckers of trying to "avoid highways and designated truck routes" and "using residential streets in an attempt to avoid delays on truck routes."

Councilman David Yassky of Brooklyn, the proposal's sponsor, said, "The drivers don't fear enforcement now because so few fines get written and when they do, the companies just pay them.”

According to the council's resolution, this behavior by truckdrivers "plagues neighborhoods with traffic and endangers their residents." The document goes on to say its residents "face greater environmental risks from the toxic air pollutants emitted from trucks."

Resolution 407 also was held over by the committee. The full council still must approve both proposals if they make it out of committee.

--by Rene Tankersley, feature editor

Rene Tankersley may be reached at renet@landlinemag.com.

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