Comrie, Liu seek to limit truck traffic

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City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), said people at his district meetings often complain about trucks tearing down telephone and power lines as they rumble through residential neighborhoods in Queens.

Comrie is the author of proposed new legislation to deter truckers from leaving official truck routes and taking shortcuts through residential streets.

“It has become a commonplace and often illegal practice for truck drivers to deviate from designated legal truck routes,” said City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), chairman of the Council’s Transportation Committee at a City Hall public hearing last Thursday.

The proposed legislation would require truckers to carry a map showing designated truck routes in New York City and papers indicating their itineraries. Trucking companies could be fined as much as $250 if they strayed off the route. Another version of the bill introduced by Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn) would take points off a truck driver’s license in case of violations.

A number of council members and those who testified told stories involving noise, exhaust pollution, spilling of debris and pavement damage wrought by trucks that take shortcuts through residential streets.

“We had one time when we had Con Ed wires torn down resulting in about an hour and a half power failure as result of a truck which was not supposed to be where it was,” said Comrie. “With this legislation, police could pull a truck over and ask to see their route papers.”

“While there are restrictions in place, they have little effect on busy truckers, especially those from out of town who may not be familiar with city streets and regulations,” said Richard Hellenbrecht, chairman of Community Board 13 in Queens Village. “In any case, there is little enforcement.”

Councilman James Sanders (D-Rockaway) said enforcement would be the key because “the best of laws go down the drain” without means of enforcement.

William Joyce, president of the New York State Motor Truck Association, objected, saying New York City is tough enough already for truckers to navigate.

Joyce said New York City already imposes “onerous laws which impose length and width restrictions (on trucks) found nowhere else in the country.”

“Frankly, the attitude toward trucks and truckers is so bad that some trucking companies advertise ‘no New York City’ as a benefit ahead of wages, medical care and pensions,” Joyce said.

The proposed legislation would raise fines for violators from $50 at present to as much as $250. Sponsors of the proposed new law said the current fine of $50 is considered by many truckers as merely a cost of doing business.

To become law, the proposal would have to be passed by the full City Council.

Sponsors of the legislation include Queens council members Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach); Tony Avella (D-Bayside); Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows); Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside); Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton); Councilwoman Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights); and David Weprin (D-Hollis).

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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