FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2008
IN PERSONAL MEETING, SCHUMER SECURES COMMITMENT FROM FEDERAL HIGHWAYS COMMISSIONER THAT AGENCY WILL WEIGH IN FAVORABLY ON FINAL TRUCKING REGULATIONS
In May, Schumer and Paterson Announced NYS DOT Trucking Regulations That Will Keep Long-Haul Trucks Off Rural Roads, But Federal Agency Forced A Redraft of Regulations in October
With Redraft Regulations in Final Stages, Schumer Holds Personal Meeting with FHWA Commissioner Thomas Madison and Urges A Favorable Reception from Federal Agency
Schumer: Madison Receptive and Will Give Federal Green Light to Final Trucking Regs
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that he has urged Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Administrator Thomas J. Madison to weigh in favorably with the final New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) truck routing regulations. After Senator Schumer and Governor Paterson announced the new regulations in May, this past October FHWA took issue with NYSDOT’s first draft of the truck regulations, citing the state agency did not properly demonstrate engineering and safety needs for re-routing trucks off of local roads. NYSDOT carefully re-crafted the regulations to show proof of these needs, and Schumer held a personal meeting with Madison, who was receptive to Schumer’s request and said he would work to give the federal green light to the final trucking regulations.
“We need immediate relief from these long-haul, oversized, noxious trucks that tread on our local roads, instead of remaining on major highways. That’s why I urged Mr. Madison to weigh in favorably and give the green light to the new regulations. I am glad that he was receptive to this and indicated that he would give the go-ahead to keeping large, non-local trucks on highways and off rural roads,” Schumer said. “The quicker these regulations go into place, the quicker we can provide much-needed relief to local residents throughout Central New York and the Finger Lakes area.”
Schumer and Governor Paterson, along with State Senator John DeFrancisco, were the first to call for the trucking regulations to stop large trucks hauling non-local solid waste and other materials across local rural roads in the Finger Lakes region and Central New York. Each day, non-local, over-sized trucks -- many of them hauling solid waste -- leave the interstates and cut through towns across the Finger Lakes and Central New York to save money on gas and avoid tolls and weigh stations. The trucks jeopardize the region’s quality of life by barreling down small rural roads that are unable to handle their weight. They also carry noxious solid waste near the region’s numerous lakes, which could pose a threat to vital drinking water sources like Lake Skaneateles, should an accident happen.
Over 1.9 million trucks carry freight through Central New York each year. In recent years, there have been numerous accidents spilling fuel, garbage and chemicals, all posing a potential threat to the Onondaga County watershed and surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, the trucks disrupt communities at all hours of the day and night.
Currently, in order to avoid paying tolls, or to save money on gas, garbage trucks traveling from New York City to landfills in Upstate New York leave the interstate roads that are better equipped to handle their weight and size, choosing instead to travel small country roads that wind in and out of the Finger Lakes region and Central New York. While the waste hauling companies save only minimal dollars, it burdens local communities with noise, deteriorating roads and safety concerns.
The national interstate system was originally designed to be the best and safest route for transporting freight by truck. The system is built to withstand larger volumes of traffic with heavier vehicles, and is intended for non-local travel. The local roads in Central New York and the Finger Lakes communities were not built to accommodate this kind of traffic, making them more suitable for local travel.
NYSDOT released a draft set of regulations for large truck routings that would balance the need for large trucks to serve the State’s economy with the need to promote sustainable economic development, tourism and improved quality of life for local residents in the Finger Lakes Region. The regulations would reduce truck traffic in many local communities by keeping large trucks on the national truck network for as much of the trip as possible. There will also be environmental and community benefits including reduced vehicle emissions and noise, and energy savings because trucks will be able to operate at continuous speeds allowed on Interstate highways, avoiding stop-and-go travel associated with local roads. DOT will hold public meetings to solicit input from the trucking industry, business, other stakeholders and the public for use in developing these regulations.
The draft regulations, however, were stalled by Federal Highways Commission, who called for a redraft. Currently, the redraft is being reviewed by the federal agency.
In order to provide immediate and swift relief to Central New Yorkers, Schumer met with Federal Highways Commissioner Thomas J. Madison and urged him to give federal approval to the new draft regulations. The regulations have reached the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform where they will be reviewed before being opened to a second public comment period. A favorable weigh-in from FHWA will help ensure the entire process can continue, until ultimately the regulations are published in the State Register.
“Mr. Madison was very receptive to our request and said that he would be weighing in favorably. I look forward to seeing their response and will continuing fighting to put these regulations into place,” Schumer said.