EAST WILLIAMSBURG — After virtually ignoring illegal truck traffic on banned roads, Williamsburg police said they would finally begin enforcing traffic laws on heavy commercial traffic.
Deputy Inspector William Gardner, the head of the 90th Precinct, admitted Wednesday night that it's been a free-for-all for heavy commercial trucks traveling down local roads where they don't belong, and blamed a lack of training of the officers under his command.
"We don’t just want to go out and paper everybody," he said at a meeting of the Community Council. "We know there's trucks off-route, but there's a lot of reasons why they would be off-route."
A borough-wide task force used to enforce truck regulations, but it was disbanded in 2015 and there's been a void ever since, according to Gardner.
It took cyclist Ryan Leary getting critically injured on Oct. 3. by a truck who was turning off of Bushwick Avenue, a banned street, onto Grand Street, to bring the issue to his attention, he said.
His office had only received two 311 complaints for off-route trucks this year, he said.
"The fact that this truck was there just brought to light that a lot of trucks [are using Bushwick Avenue]," Gardner said.
Since the Oct. 3 crash, police have staked out the corner and written 28 tickets to trucks for driving off-route, he said — that's more than the precinct had written in the entire year up until that point.
By Sept. 28, the 90th Precinct had issued just 16 summonses to off-route trucks, DNAinfo reported.
Despite the ramped up enforcement, an informal survey of traffic, counted 77 trucks using Bushwick Avenue in an hour on Tuesday morning.
Trucks are supposed to travel on certain city-designated routes unless they're making local deliveries. Drivers have to provide what's called a "bill of lading" to a police officer if pulled over that shows they're within a few blocks of their destination.
Gardner urged residents to report errant behavior to 311 or their Neighborhood Coordination Officer when they see it.