Faced with the growing problem in his district of trucks illegally using residential side streets off of designated truck routes, Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) sponsored a bill to put a stop to the practice.
“How many times have we heard that residential streets are supposed to be residential?” Vallone asked in a press release after his bill was approved unanimously by the Council on May 27.
Unfortunately, Vallone pointed out, the city Department of Transportation as a matter of policy does not post so-called “negative signage,” such as “No Through Trucks.”
The result, Vallone said, is many truck drivers seek to shorten their routes by illegally going off designated truck routes and shorten their trips with more direct routes over residential streets.
Compounding the problem, Vallone said, is that the NYPD can be wary of enforcement, such as summonses, in places where there are not adequate signs warning drivers.
The bill Introduction No. 315-A, requires the DOT to “study compliance” of drivers along designated truck routes, as well as areas where drivers routinely wander off the marked path.
“Based on the study, the department shall institute measures [emphasis added] designed to increase truck route compliance …”
The measures could include, but would not be limited to converting two-way streets to one-way streets; education and outreach.
And, as appropriate, posting signs regarding the permissible use of certain routes by trucks.
The study is due no later than Jan. 1, 2017.
Vallone spokesman Lionel Morales acknowledged that truck-route laws already exist, and that the councilman, like most of his colleagues, already knows where the troubled routes are.
Still, he said, Vallone’s bill promises genuine action.
“The study will formally bring the DOT in to review the information,” Morales said. “If we give them the information from council members, community boards and civic leaders from specific locations, they can come in, study it and confirm those claims.”
Joe Moretti of Jamaica wishes Vallone more luck than he has had trying to get the DOT, the police or anyone else to enforce rules against trucks that use northbound 170th Street as a shortcut between Jamaica and Hillside avenues.
“One, I do not understand why a bill is even needed, considering that there already is a law that trucks, with the exception of local deliveries, are not permitted on residential streets to begin with, and must use truck routes,” Moretti told the Chronicle. “The problem is not the law — the problem is lack of enforcement and DOT refusing to put up “No Trucks” signs on problematic roads …”
Moretti questions how effective a law can be absent enforcement and proper signs. He also is dubious about having to wait the better part of two years, particularly as all the players involved know the location of troubled spots in given areas.
“Why have a two-year wait?” he asked. “Haven’t they already done study after study on a problem everyone knows is a problem?”
Moretti has been posting on his blog photographs and videos of truck traffic along his street since fall 2014.
The Chronicle, at the request of a DOT spokeswoman, submitted a handful of questions on sign policy to the department via email early Tuesday afternoon.
The DOT did not reply prior to the Chronicle’s deadline on Wednesday.
Morales, however, said the bill, if signed into law by Mayor de Blasio as expected, would compel the DOT to act, up to and including installing signs that it now does not, simply as a matter of policy.
“The wording of the bill makes sure it would be a matter of how DOT responds, not if,” Morales said.