OOIDA members urged to oppose state road plan in New York

| 2/27/2009

Despite a severe economic downtown that has cash-strapped truckers struggling to keep their businesses afloat, the New York State Department of Transportation is still pushing forward with the proposed rule to ban heavy trucks from certain state routes in the Finger Lakes region.

The proposed rule, which would restrict truckers from using seven specific routes, was submitted to the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform in December 2008.

“We are still in the review process and there is no time frame on when we might make a decision,” said Tim Beadnell, public information officer for the office of regulatory reform.

“We are weighing all the information, like the cost-benefit analysis, and gathering input from different groups right now.”

Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association recently spoke to the NYSDOT about the proposed rule and warned this could prove disastrous for small-business truckers who would have to route around these roads.

And if passed, small-business truckers like OOIDA Senior Member Terry Button of Rushville, NY, who has a large hay-hauling operation, is concerned about enforcement efforts along those routes when he is legitimately supposed to be on them to deliver hay to the horse farms in the region.

“Truckers like Terry Button will still have to take precious time out of their day to prove to enforcement officials that they belong on those roads,” Joyce told Land Line Magazine recently. “This couldn’t come at a worse time for small-business truckers, and we tried to emphasize that point to them during our conversation on this issue.”

The NYSDOT has been working on the plan since May 2008 after residents of the Finger Lakes region complained about the increased number of trash trucks on secondary roads in the area. However, if passed, the ban would affect all heavy trucks that currently use these routes.

NYSDOT spokesman Charles “Skip” Carrier said the regulation is needed to protect a “sense of environmental quality that is unique to the region of the state.”

According to the NYSDOT’s own study on the financial impact associated with forcing heavy trucks to route around these secondary roads, the regulation – if passed – could cost truckers an additional $10 million a year in additional fuel, toll and operating costs.

“Given this economic climate, this is extra money our members just don’t have right now,” Joyce said.

Beadnell said while the NYSDOT has formally submitted their proposed rule for review, the transportation agency can also withdraw their proposal at any time.

However, once the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform makes the decision to publish the proposed rule in the New York Register, Beadnell said it will then trigger a 45-day public comment period.

In late September 2008, the Federal Highway Administration advised the NYSDOT to revise its plan before formally submitting it for review, stating their federal funding might be in jeopardy as it was originally written. The state DOT then resubmitted their plan after reducing the number of proposed restricted routes to seven from the 60 routes that were initially proposed.

Joyce said there is still time for OOIDA members to send letters to the state’s DOT about how the proposed regulation could negatively affect their businesses.

Letters should be sent to the following address:

Commissioner Astrid C. Glynn
New York State Department of Transpiration
50 Wolf Road, 6th Floor
Albany, NY 12232

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer