OOIDA urges NYSDOT to ‘abandon plan’ to restrict upstate truck traffic

| 12/15/2009

In comments filed with the New York State Department of Transportation on Monday, Dec. 14, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association requested that the transportation agency “abandon its current plan to restrict large-truck traffic on state roads in the Finger Lakes region.”

Instead, the Association suggests in its comments that the NYSDOT focus its efforts “more narrowly on those non-local trash trucks,” instead of seeking to restrict all truck traffic on these routes.

Also on Monday, the NYSDOT announced that it will accept “late comments” until Jan. 8, 2010, so there’s still time to comment.

OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Joe Rajkovacz said the agency didn’t do its proper “requisite analysis” before pushing forward with its route-restricting plan.

“This is certainly a contentious issue and one that is poorly reasoned when the New York State Department of Transportation seeks to restrict trucks off of state roads because some residents in the area don’t find trucks aesthetically pleasing,” Rajkovacz said. “Their quality-of-life argument is weak, and we feel there are some better solutions than restricting all trucks from using these roads.”

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, the NYSDOT restriction would apply to all large trucks because the agency claimed they couldn’t restrict trucks from using these routes based upon the cargo they carry.

Instead, Mike Joyce, director of legislative affairs in OOIDA’s Washington, DC, office, told Land Line Now on Monday that the Association favors a more “proactive solution” rather than banning all trucks from these seven routes.

“We prefer a (financial) incentive-type approach … a proactive approach, not just a reactive, negative regulatory response,” Joyce said.

He said offering a volume discount for trash trucks to use the Thruway is a potential solution. Another solution may be to “enlarge the R permit restrictions,” which would drive some of the traffic onto the Thruway. Another suggestion would be to lower tolls on the Thruway for trucks or to lower the diesel fuel tax as an incentive for truckers to purchase fuel in the state of New York.

“The cost-benefit analysis that’s being done right now is not very thorough from our vantage point. Again, we view the state of New York as looking at the aesthetic qualities – the noise, the sight of the trucks – not at the cost-benefit of restricting truck traffic,” Joyce said.

In its comments, OOIDA urged the NYSDOT to explore the other alternatives “that would encourage truckers to use the New York Thruway and the national network wherever possible.”

“Development of other alternatives is essential because the currently proposed regulations are not reasonably enforceable and are likely to harm the already-fragile economy of the Finger Lakes region and the state of New York generally.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer