State road plan in New York would be ‘detrimental’ to truckers, farmers

| 1/29/2009

Despite warnings by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association that banning heavy trucks from certain state roads would be detrimental to small-business truckers in upstate New York, the New York Department of Transportation is still pushing forward with the proposed regulation.

The NYDOT is proposing a regulation to ban all heavy trucks from seven specific routes in the Finger Lakes region, citing the needs for “a sense of environmental quality that is unique to that region of the state,” according to NYDOT spokesman Charles “Skip” Carrier.

OOIDA Legislative Affairs Director Mike Joyce said this proposed rule “couldn’t come at a worse time” for small-business truckers, as well as farmers, who are trying to stay afloat during these challenging economic times.

If passed, this rule would force truckers to spend more in fuel and toll costs to route around these secondary roads, not to mention their added operating costs.

“This would be detrimental to our members,” Joyce told Land Line Magazine on Thursday, Jan. 29. “We are hopeful we can work with the NYDOT to find a workable solution that protects the interests of America’s small-business truck drivers.”

In early December, the NYDOT formally submitted its proposed regulation to ban trucks from seven specific state routes to the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform for review.

Tim Beadnell, public information officer for the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform, confirmed the office has received the proposed regulation from NYDOT.

“We are carefully reviewing it now,” Beadnell told Land Line Magazine in early January.

He said the office is still gathering information and input before making a final decision on the plan. If the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform decides to publish the proposed rule on the state’s Register, it will trigger a 45-day public comment period.

According to the NYDOT’s own study on this issue, the regulation would cost truckers an estimated $10 million more a year in fuel, tolls and operating costs to route around these state roads.

This also comes after the Federal Highway Administration advised the state DOT to revise their plan in late September, stating their federal funding might be in jeopardy as it was submitted as written. Their plan originally restricted 60 routes, which has been reduced to seven routes.

The New York Farm Bureau also issued a statement earlier this week criticizing the plan because it will “surely harm jobs and have a major impact on agriculture and the upstate economy.”

“Before we make these sweeping, restrictive changes, we have to weigh the impact these changes will have on the upstate rural economy and the costs of transporting farm products to New York City consumers,” Dean Norton, president of the New York Farm Bureau, said in the release.

OOIDA Senior Member Terry Button of Rushville, NY, has an extensive farming and hay-hauling operation. He has contacted his lawmakers, as well as the NYDOT Commissioner Astrid Glenn, on how this would negatively affect his farming and trucking business.

“If passed, this is a continuation of policies that make our state less competitive on the national and international playing field,” Button told Land Line.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer