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76 Precinct Plans Crackdown on Oversize Trucks

By Alan Neuhauser | October 4, 2012 3:58pm

RED HOOK — Brooklyn police are planning to crack down on illegal oversize trucks that stop traffic and damage city streets as they travel to and from warehouses and factories along the Red Hook waterfront, 76th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Vincent Marrone said.

"When we do have officers available, we do tend to write summonses," Marrone said, noting that the next enforcement operation is scheduled to take place in the next month.

"Is it effective? It probably is for a little while, but after an amount of time, the trucks come back."

City regulations limit tractor-trailers to 55 feet in length, but trucks as long as 70 feet — or about seven stories — regularly rumble through Red Hook's streets unimpeded, looping into oncoming lanes to make turns, blocking traffic and, residents allege, hopping curbs, striking signs and scraping cars.

David Meade, director of the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, said that Red Hook's industrial centers often use oversize trucks to reduce their shipping costs.

"They have very tight profit margins, and when they have to do what's best for them, it's a challenge," Meade explained.

"Not every company has their own fleet of trucks — drivers are contracted. And the number of trips can affect gas and tolls."

The city's Department of Transportation, which is responsible for setting and enforcing the truck traffic regulations, did not return calls and emails for comment Thursday. The agency often partners with police to enforce truck regulations, Marrone said, but both he and Brooklyn Community Board 6 district manager Craig Hammerman agreed that issuing summonses ultimately only addresses the issue in the short-term.

"You need to have an enforcement presence, but you cannot station a police officer on every corner for the entirety," Hammerman said. "If a problem relies on constant enforcement to be kept under control, it suggests there are other approaches and executions that should be done."

But given the make-up of Red Hook's streets and the reliance of its warehouses and factories on tractor-trailers, Hammerman and Marrone said there may be little that can be done at the local, city or state level to alleviate the effects of truck traffic in Red Hook.

"Our streets were not designed for 70- or 55-foot tractor trailers," Hammerman said. "It's trying to fit 21st-century vehicles onto a 19th-century street grid. It defies the laws of physics."