Last month, in response to the dangers posed by trucks hauling non-local solid waste across local rural roads in the Finger Lakes and Central New York, Gov. David Paterson asked the state Department of Transportation to institute a new policy intended to keep large trucks, with the exception of local pick-up and delivery vehicles, on the Interstate Highway System.
The proposed draft regulation would establish a hierarchy for how trucks should travel the entire state. The regulation establishing a hierarchical road network for truck use would require any truck-trailer combination with a trailer 45 feet or longer to use interstates as primary routes for reaching truck terminals and to use NYSDOT-designated access highways and other state highways only as "reasonably necessary."
"There are some communities in our state where the local roads have become unsafe shortcuts for big rig drivers who leave the Interstate Highway System, affecting the quality of life in local communities," said Paterson. "This has endangered safety and hurt the quality of life of these communities - generating unacceptable noise pollution, posing a threat to pedestrians and bicyclists, and carrying cargo that could endanger important watersheds. This draft regulation is a major step forward in our effort to find a resolution to this issue even as we ensure the speedy movement of freight across the State."
Officials say they will work with the trucking industry as well as local communities, businesses and others as they finalize the regulations.
The proposed regulation must go through the formal rule-making process, which requires a thorough analysis of the proposal's potential costs and benefits and environmental and economic impacts, approval by the Governors Office of Regulatory Reform, a 45-day public comment period and an evaluation of comments received. The rule-making process could take six months or more.
In addition, a "traffic-calming initiative" will focus initially on specific highways in the Finger Lakes tourism region, with NYSDOT offering to work with communities to make physical and other changes to state highways to reduce congestion, improve safety and provide better conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. Traffic-calming measures include items such as street narrowing, reduced speed limits, medians, designated pedestrian crosswalks, pedestrian refuge islands, roundabouts, landscaping, colored sidewalks, bike lane markings, speed-timed traffic signals and improved signage.
In addition, NYSDOT will take a series of short- and long-term actions to manage large truck traffic, including encouraging freight-rail transportation in order to remove trucks from the highway; and working with other state agencies and public authorities to ensure maximum use of the interstate highway system by large trucks.
The draft regulation is available on the NYSDOT Web site at https://www.nysdot.gov/portal/page/portal/programs/truckpolicy.