Dozens gathered at the intersection of 64th Street and Grand Avenue early last Thursday to protest the slew of trucks that illegally bypass the truck route day after day.
“We had a bunch of people show up,” Roe Dario, president of the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together civic association, said. “We had people on each side of the street, some sitting on benches and I think it went pretty well.”
Dario, COMET and other members of the community have been working to improve truck traffic in Maspeth for years, and when the Department of Transportation introduced the Maspeth Bypass Plan two years ago, it seemed a light might be at the end of the tunnel.
But despite the move, tractor trailers continue to drive down Fresh Pond Road and parts of Grand Avenue in order to evade traffic on the Long Island Expressway. Trucks are supposed to get off the expressway at 58th Street, turn left onto Rust Street and continue onto Flushing Avenue.
“The NYS DOT performs daily rigorous truck inspections right on Rust Street and Maspeth Avenue and as a result, most trucks avoid coming through this area,” Denise Diamantis of the GoodFellas Diner in Maspeth said. “At the same intersection, the 104th Precinct and 108 Precinct also target and pull over hundreds of vehicles per week ... The NYS DOT should move the truck inspections onto Grand Avenue and maybe the trucks would go through the truck route in the industrial area.”
In addition, there have been issues with the DOT website that also caused problems as the agency has yet to update the truck route map to include the bypass despite it being implemented more than a year ago.
Though there is still work to be done, Dario said, ralliers received a lot of support from passersby.
“We had a few motorists who would honk their horns or show their support by giving a thumbs up,” she said. “Some of the truck drivers who passed had different finger for us.”