Why are Illegal Big Trucks Operating in NYC? - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Why are Illegal Big Trucks Operating in NYC?

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Illegal CSX Railroad 53' trailer with extended cab using Grand Avenue's commercial district.

It's been a busy springtime for the Juniper Park Civic Association. JPCA led the fight for the Maspeth Truck Bypass Plan, devised by Tony Nunziato and the late civic leader, Frank Principe. We also pushed for the elimination of the "Thru Truck Route" on Grand Avenue. However enforcement was not in place until the JPCA got the media involved with several TV and newspaper appearances. Now NYPD is enforcing truck regulations on Grand Avenue and there has been a marked decrease in large truck traffic.

However 53' trailers, which are illegal in NYC, continue to use streets practically everywhere in the City of New York. Many trucks with 53' trailers have extended cabs that together can measure a staggering 78 feet bumper-to-bumper. That far exceeds the legal length limit for trucks using NYC streets of 55 feet bumper-to-bumper.

These massively oversized trucks are wreaking havoc on our streets. The larger and heavier tractor trailers cause traffic backups since they maneuver much slower than smaller trucks. They are also more dangerous to pedestrians and motorists because of sightlines. Larger trucks have greater difficulty negotiating turns especially in a crowded NYC. Additionally the heavier trucks cause much more damage to the transportation infrastructure. Just look at the condition of New York City streets.

So why is the Bloomberg Administration not aggressively enforcing truck size limitations? According to Stacey Hodge, Director of the Department of Transportation's Office of Freight Mobility, it's due to reduced NYPD staffing. "The police just don't have enough manpower," she said.

To address this problem I recently visited Councilman Peter Vallone, chair of the city council's Public Safety Committee, to brief him on the situation. Councilman Vallone immediately fired off a letter to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (see below). Vallone is also set to address the JPCA membership on June 23rd in Middle Village. We thank Councilman Vallone for his assistance.

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The following letter was sent from Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. (r.) to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly on May 16th regarding oversized trucks operating in NYC.

Dear Commissioner Kelly:

I am writing in reference to the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (Title 3, Article 10, section 385-Dimensions and weights of vehicles), concerning the permissible length of semitrailers or trailers that can be operated on highways and designated truck routes in New York City. It has been brought to my attention by community leaders that semitrailers, whose maximum allowable length under law is fifty-three feet, are being operated and parked on City streets, with lengths as great as seventy feet and more, with impunity. This problem is of particular concern to residents who live near the more industrial areas of Queens County.

In these challenging economic times, when the City must make difficult decisions on services and programs to either fund or eliminate, it would seem that stepped-up enforcement would help to alleviate some of our challenges by increasing city revenue. Unfortunately, I am told that this type of enforcement is nonexistent in many communities. Because this is an important issue to many including myself, I am requesting information on the following:

• The total amount of summonses that have been issued by your department over the last three fiscal years as it relates to infractions involving semitrailers or trailers;

• The total amount of summonses that were issued for dimension violations involving semitrailers or trailers over the last three fiscal years;

• The total amount of revenue generated from semitrailer or trailer infractions over the past three fiscal years; and do you disagree with our interpretation of the law, or is there anything that can be done on the state or local level to change or strengthen these laws to assist you?

I thank you for your attention to this matter, and look forward to learning more about your department's enforcement policies as it relates to this issue.

Sincerely,

Peter F. Vallone Jr.

Chair, Committee on Public Safety