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Truck traffic and pollution under fire in new Avella bill

Trucks in Maspeth during an anti-truck rally in July. State Sen. Tony Avella is looking to address a growing concern over illegal truck traffic in the borough.
TimesLedger Newspapers

A lawmaker in northeast Queens has proposed a piece of legislation aimed at curbing illegal truck traffic on residential streets by allowing authorities to seize vehicles of drivers who repeatedly break the law.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) announced last week he introduced S.7853 to the Senate with hopes to keep trucks from violating their routes and negatively impacting neighborhoods by increasing traffic and creating air or noise pollution.

“One of the most frequent quality of life complaints my office receives is illegal truck traffic,” Avella said. “The incidence of illegal truck traffic has increased dramatically throughout my district and beyond.”

According to the legislation, Avella proposed that law enforcement be given the ability to seize and institute forfeiture proceedings on a truck, tractor or tractor-trailer with a gross weight of more than 10,000 pounds when drivers have been convicted of three violations on their routes within 18 months.

The result, Avella said, would lead to a more quiet and stable street landscape.

“All too often, these huge trucks and tractor-trailers drive through quiet residential streets with little or no regard for residents — creating traffic congestion, noise pollution and vibrations that shake the foundation of homes,” Avella said.

Avella said municipalities throughout the borough have worked to address truck traffic by imposing designated truck routes to which drivers are legally bound to follow with limited exceptions. The problem, Avella said, was that drivers failed to comply with the laws and cut through residential neighborhoods to save time.

Avella’s legislation, he said, would up the penalties for repeat offenders and therefore protect local communities overrun with the burden of truck traffic and improve the quality of life.

“Despite previous legislative efforts that have increased the penalties issued to truck drivers for truck route violations, many trucking companies and drivers disregard these fines as merely the cost of doing business,” Avella said. “Therefore, the only other option is to seize the vehicles of perpetual violators of the truck traffic regulations. Enacting this legislation would send a powerful message to these companies and drivers that we are no longer going to tolerate illegal truck traffic.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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