By Joe Anuta
Drivers who weave oversized trucks through the residential streets of Maspeth got an unwelcome surprise two weeks in a row when police handed out a slew of traffic tickets, much to the delight of residents.
Officers from the 104th Precinct, the NYPD’s Traffic Enforcement Department, the state Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol set up a checkpoint on Grand Avenue between Hamilton Place and 65th Street Monday to stop large tractor trailers, which cannot legally operate on Grand and Flushing avenues after the truck route was changed March 25.
Trucks also received tickets for being overweight, having poor brakes, bald tires and hauling a trailer that was too long, according to activist Tony Nunziato, who said the latest round of enforcement lasted from 7 to 11 a.m.
“I couldn’t believe the amount of trucks,” he said. “It really was excellent, they did it very professionally this time.”
The first round of ticketing April 12, drew criticism from Bob Holden at a Community Board 5 meeting last week.
The traffic enforcement officers had no means to measure the length of tractor trailers and did not have a weigh station set up, but both items were present at the second round of ticketing.
“Everyone said that implementation of the truck route changes would not be effective without enforcement,” said Vincent Arcuri, chairman of Community Board 5. “The community and the board requested that [the city] make a concerted effort after proper notification had been given.”
The city Department of Transportation notified the trucking businesses of the change and gave companies ample time to make adjustments, according to Arcuri.
The change in the signage along Flushing and Grand avenues was a temporary measure by the DOT to get trucks off the streets in the western Queens neighborhood.
But a larger plan, called the Maspeth truck bypass, is currently in the planning stages that would completely reroute trucks on the Long Island Expressway on their way to Brooklyn around the residential portions of Maspeth via Maurice Avenue.
During a Feb. 24 information session, the DOT presented its plan for the bypass and many members of the community like Holden asked the department to increase ticketing for trucks who violate the law.
“It’s only advisory,” he said of the plan. “I don’t have any faith in signage. I have faith in writing [truckers] up for a ticket.”
And that is exactly what happened, which Gary Giordano, executive director of CB 5, said is all part of the long-term plan to keep trucks out of the neighborhood.
“I think while we’re waiting to see if we can agree on a Maspeth truck bypass plan, making Grand and Flushing avenues for local traffic only is an important first step,” he said. “I think that they are going to have to do it with some regularity before the truckers get the message.”
The NYPD could not be reached for comment.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.