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December 2007

New York Senate approves legislation to keep garbage trucks off local roads

The New York State Senate approved legislation co-sponsored by Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C-I, Elmira) to help keep large garbage trucks hauling waste from New York City and other downstate regions off of local highways in Tompkins County and other upstate municipalities.

There are currently no restrictions outside of New York City for the transportation of hazardous materials on state highways.

The legislation Winner co-sponsors seeks to designate the state Department of Transportation (DOT) as the agency responsible for promulgating regulations governing the routing of hazardous materials, including municipal solid waste. Under the legislation, which must be approved by the Assembly and signed by Governor Eliot Spitzer before becoming law, the DOT would consult with the state departments of Health and Environmental Conservation when establishing truck route designations.

The issue stems from the increasing number of large garbage trucks transporting municipal solid waste from the tri-state New York, New Jersey and Connecticut region to the Seneca Meadows landfill in Waterloo. While haulers’ contracts call for trucks to utilize the interstate highway system and avoid residential and environmentally sensitive areas as much as possible, many of them are taking shortcuts on local highways through Tompkins County and other upstate communities to avoid tolls and save time.

Local residents have told Winner that the problem has been especially persistent on State Routes 79, 89 and 96 and 34.

In late September, Tompkins County hosted an Upstate New York Safety Coalition Task Force meeting to bring together local, state and federal representatives to discuss ways to keep the potentially unsafe trucks off of local roadways where they pose environmental risks, threaten the safety of local motorists and residents, and damage local infrastructure.