A bill moving through the Connecticut statehouse is intended
to improve safety for drivers on Avon Mountain. The bill is one of several
efforts put before lawmakers this year that are relevant to trucks operating in
Sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Harris, D-West Hartford, the bill
would authorize the cities of Avon and West Hartford to conduct a pilot program
of automated speed enforcement on Route 44 over the mountain. Violators would
face up to $150 fines.
The cameras snap pictures of red-light runners or speeders.
A ticket is mailed to the vehicles' owners, regardless who was driving at the
The roots of Harris' bill can be traced back to a deadly
truck crash in July 2005 that killed four people and injured 19 in the town of
Avon. It happened when a dump truck slammed into other vehicles that were
stopped at the bottom of the mountain's steep grade at the intersection of
state Routes 44 and 10. Since then, various safety-related bills have come
before lawmakers in the state.
Harris' bill - SB439 - is in the Joint Committee on Planning
Another bill in the committee would make certain truck
drivers responsible for paying more tax to the state. Sponsored by Rep.
DebraLee Hovey, R-Monroe, the measure - HB5287 - would allow towns to levy a
tax on each truckload of rocks, dirt or other materials removed from a
Rep. Joseph Serra, D-Middletown, offered a bill that is
intended to aid businesses in the state that do truck repairs. The measure -
HB5031 - would exempt the sales tax on parts and labor
for repairs to trucks and motor vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds.
Serra wrote that the exemption potentially would "stop major
fleets from going out of state for repairs, thus keeping the Connecticut repair
It is in the Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and
Other bills of interest have been killed. They failed to
meet a Monday, March 19, deadline to advance from the Joint Committee on
Among the legislative efforts that will need to wait until
next year for consideration is a bill intended to limit the time of day that
trucks can move hazardous materials on highways in the state. Sponsored by Sen.
Bill Finch, D-Bridgeport, the bill - SB434 - would have limited hauling hazmat
on affected routes to between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Sen. Thomas Gaffey, D-Meriden, wanted to see all traffic
slowed on certain roadways in the state. His bill - SB720 - would have reduced
the speed limit from 65 mph to 60 mph on rural interstates and other
A bill offered by Rep. Claire Janowski, D-Vernon, would have
permitted truck drivers to use the left passing lane on Interstates 84, 95 and
91. Janowski wrote in the bill - HB5315 - that the change would "increase
highway efficiency and reduce accident traffic along highways."
Another bill would have required
increased penalties for motor vehicle violations where certain trucks are
involved. Sponsored by Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, the effort - SB154 -
would have authorized increased penalties to be imposed upon operators or
owners for any equipment or moving violation where the vehicle involved has a
gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of at least
Rep. John Ryan, D-Oakdale, offered legislation - HB5428 -
that would have prohibited any trucks longer than 30 feet in length to travel
along the Merritt Parkway.
One other bill called for truck traffic to be shifted off
Connecticut roadways and onto rail. Sponsored by Rep. Thomas Drew, D-Fairfield,
the bill - HB5424 - would have required a working group to be assembled to
recommend actions necessary to divert trucks from highways in the state to
It also called for the group to recommend a regional action
plan for alternative Hudson River freight crossings.
- By Keith Goble,
state legislative editor