Truckers have just six more days to comment on a proposed regulation to ban trucks from key routes in the Finger Lakes region.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is urging its members who live in New York or who do business in the state to comment on the New York State Department of Transportation’s proposed plan to restrict truck traffic on seven key routes in upstate New York.
The NYSDOT has extended the comment period twice in recent months. Both OOIDA and the New York State Motor Truck Association have previously been granted more time from the NYSDOT to prepare their comments because they are still waiting on additional documentation they are have requested through a Freedom of Information Law request.
Mike Joyce, director of legislative affairs in OOIDA’s Washington, DC, office said this proposed restriction couldn’t come at a worse time for small-business truckers who are struggling to survive as freight rates continue to drop and as fuel and equipment costs continue to rise.
“This just doesn’t make good economic sense to move forward with this regulation,” Joyce said.
While the proposed regulation was aimed mainly at restricting the large number of garbage trucks which use these secondary roads instead of the New York Thruway, this restriction would apply to all heavy trucks that use these routes.
“We are certain there are other options out there that would better serve our members than forcing drivers to use the New York Thruway,” Joyce said.
Joyce said the NYSDOT should consider alternative options rather than banning trucks from certain key routes in upstate New York. He said a more favorable solution would be to offer incentives for garbage haulers to run the Thruway instead of these secondary routes, such as a reduction in toll costs or a reduction in the ton-mile taxes truckers must pay.
While the NYSDOT admits there will be “adverse” financial effects on small-business truckers, the agency is still pushing forward with the proposed rule.
“Independent truck drivers and small trucking firms that operate on tighter profit margins would also be impacted by increased cost associated with using longer routes,” according to the NYSDOT’s notice that was published on the New York State’s Register on Aug. 26.
“Small businesses receiving truck deliveries may also be adversely impacted by higher rates resulting from the higher costs incurred by trucking companies as a result of the rule,” the notice stated.
The NYSDOT cites as one reason they are pushing for the ban that it would be environmentally “conducive” for the communities in the Finger Lakes region who depend on tourism.
“A reduction in large truck traffic will contribute to an environment conducive to these activities,” according to the rule-making notice published on the New York State’s Register.
However, for small-business truckers who are already seeing their profit margins dwindle, this could be the death knell for their trucking operations.
Comments can be submitted via e-mail to mailto:email@example.com?cc=RegComments@gorr.state.ny.us or mailed to:
Director of State and Local Relations
New York State Department of Transportation
50 Wolf Road, Albany, NY 12232
To provide comments to the NYSDOT via phone, call 518-457-2345. Callers should simply state that they want to comment on the draft regulation, and they will be transferred to someone who will take the comment for the record.
Out-of-state truckers also are urged to contact Gov. David Paterson either by e-mail or by calling him at 518-474-8390.
Here are the seven routes that will be affected by the ban:
- Route 41 in Cortland and Onondaga counties;
- Route 41A in Cortland, Cayuga and Onondaga counties;
- Route 90 in Cortland and Cayuga counties;
- Route 38 in Cayuga County;
- Route 79 in Broome, Tioga, and Tompkins counties;
- Route 89 in Tompkins and Seneca counties; and
- Route 96 in Tompkins and Seneca counties.
– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer