New York gets ready for the GOP; trucking restrictions will be in place

| Monday, August 23, 2004

Truckers who make deliveries into New York City could face disruptions as the city prepares for the Republican National Convention next week.

The convention is scheduled for Aug. 30-Sept. 2 in Madison Square Garden. Most sessions will run from 8 to 11 p.m. EDT, but on Monday, Aug. 30, there will also be a session from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. EDT. Other areas of the city, such as the Jacob Javits Center, also have convention-related activities scheduled.

Similar to the Democratic Convention in Boston, security at the Republican event and the area around it will be tight. For example, anyone entering the area around the convention center – from Seventh Avenue to Ninth Avenue between 31st and 33rd streets – will be asked to provide identification and their destination within the area near the convention.

All trucks and vans that enter the area will be subject to inspection at spots around the neighborhood, and some streets will be off-limits for trucks and vans. New York officials recommend that truckers carry some type of ID from their carriers if available.

Truck drivers entering the area must posses a valid driver’s license, vehicle registration and delivery manifest or invoice. Parking in the convention zone will be prohibited except during designated delivery times.

In addition to the spot inspections, vehicle checkpoints with active vehicle barriers will be established at:

  • West 31st, 32nd and 33rd Streets on the west side of Sixth Avenue;
  • West 31st and 33rd Streets on the east side of Ninth Avenue;
  • Seventh Avenue at West 34th Street and West 30th Street; and
  • Eighth Avenue at West 34th Street and West 30th Street.

In addition, a number of streets will be closed:

  • West 31st to West 33rd streets from Sixth to Ninth avenues will be closed to vehicle traffic.
  • West 32nd between Sixth and Seventh avenues will be closed to vehicle traffic. It will become a pedestrian mall, providing access to Penn Station up through Penn Station’s Seventh Avenue entrance under the Madison Square Garden marquee.
  • Seventh Avenue will be closed from 42nd to 29th streets during the 13 hours when the convention is in session. At other times, at least one lane will be open in the Madison Square Garden area, and all lanes will be open elsewhere.
  • Eighth Avenue will be closed during the convention hours from 23rd to 34th streets. Also, because 31st Street at Eighth Avenue will be a designated protest area, additional lane or avenue closures are likely south of that point at other times during the week.

The New York Police Department, on its Web site, also lists a number of other truck restrictions during the convention week:

  • All trucks making deliveries between West 29th Street and West 35th Street and between Sixth Avenue and Ninth Avenue will have to be travel into the area during off-hours;
  • On Monday, Aug. 30, all vehicles will be required to leave the area by 4 a.m.; and
  • From Tuesday, Aug. 31, through Thursday, Sept. 2, delivery trucks may enter the convention zone only between 2 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The protest area along Eighth Avenue is expected to draw large numbers of demonstrators. New York officials said in a release that the protest zone would be extended down the street as far as necessary, depending upon the size of the crowd. That could create additional traffic tie-ups.

However, everything is not doom and gloom. In a news release, city officials pointed out that New York City gets 100,000 visitors a day and in August, but that 150,000 fewer people make the daily commute into the city during that month each year. About 50,000 delegates, officials, media representatives and guests are expected to take part in the convention.

Officials describe many of the security precautions as similar to those used on New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

The tightened security was expected. Earlier this year, officials at the Transportation Security Administration asked OOIDA to alert truckers to be extra watchful for possible terrorist activity during the months leading up to Election Day. Several administration officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Attorney General John Ashcroft, warned that terrorists might attack sometime before the November election in an attempt to disrupt the democratic process. Some reports pointed to the Democratic and Republican conventions, or the election itself, as possible targets.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said truckers should be “especially vigilant and aware of suspicious behavior.”

Drivers should be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary – things that in a trucker's experience look out of place or out of the routine – such as people taking pictures of shipping and receiving facilities or ports.

“Be especially diligent in terms of securing equipment, making certain that equipment is not stolen or easy to steal,” Spencer said. “And be aware of when equipment does come up missing, i.e. tanker trailers and things like that.”

For more information about the Republican National Convention, truckers and others can call (212) 239-4381, (212) 239-2344, (212) 239-9846 or 3-1-1 within New York. Additional information is available at www.nyc2004.org.

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