The Brooklyn communities of Greenpoint and Williamsburg deal with some of the worst truck traffic in New York City and are calling on Mayor Bloomberg to do more about it. Brooklyn Community Board 1 recently sent a letter to the Mayor asking him to improve truck traffic management and enforcement by directing “all city agencies” to work together to address truck impacts in the overburdened neighborhoods.
The letter cites a 2006 truck study first commissioned by NYCDOT in the late 1990s to examine ways of managing truck traffic and its impacts. CB1 says none of the report’s recommendations have landed on its streets.
MTR has been tracking the City’s efforts to deal with truck traffic and took a look back at the 2006 truck study to see if progress is being made on key areas. Here’s what’s changed since then:
Management: A key study recommendation was the creation of an Office of Freight Mobility, which NYCDOT did create in 2006. But the office currently has only two full-time employees, although they are not the only staffers dealing with truck issues at NYCDOT.
Regulatory and Policy issues: The study suggested the City explore opportunities for small commercial vehicles to travel on selected limited-access parkways. NYCDOT is doing so, studying whether it is feasible to provide access to the Henry Hudson Parkway, FDR, and Harlem River Drive.
Truck Routing: Signage improvements were a “significant recommendation” of the study as existing truck route signs are often unclear, designed and placed in an inconsistent manner. According to recent conversations, the Office is soon to start a truck sign pilot program in Hunts Point, The Bronx, to improve the “recognizabilty” of truck route signs. The intent is to see how standardizing signage placement and type affects truck driving behavior.
Improved enforcement: The Office of Freight Mobility has designed and distributed truck route pamphlets for NYPD officers, as the study recommended. Off-route truck summonses are now tracked in the NYPD’s reporting tool TrafficStat, but many other violations, like idling, are not.
Improved education and outreach: The study called for the creation of a “one-stop shop” for truck information in NYC, revisions to the city truck route map, and improved coordination with map companies. These recommendations have been implemented and the DOT launched a new truck webpage.
While these are positive steps to managing truck traffic, CB1′s letter indicates that they haven’t resulted in visible benefits for local residents. With more resources, the city could hire additional Freight Mobility staff, facilitating a more targeted approach to truck hotspots that includes police enforcement, better signal timing at problem intersections, and improved agency coordination. CB1 points out that nearly 40% of NYC’s trash comes through Greenpoint and Williamsburg, making it imperative that the Dept. of Sanitation be part of the solution. More resources could also allow the city to make headway on study recommendations that haven’t been implemented, such as nighttime local truck route restrictions.
Truck traffic may be declining, but deliveries will undoubtedly increase when the economy rebounds. With a more local approach, the city could provide disproportionately affected neighborhoods the “consistent, permanent, comprehensive response” that CB1 calls for.
Image: Google Street View.