NEW YORK (PIX11) — The percentage of packages delivered to homes in New York City doubled during the pandemic and it has held steady.
More than three million boxes, envelopes and items move around the boroughs on a typical day. The city is trying to deal with the demand and the congestion.
A proposal moving through the New York City Council would require the Department of Transportation to “redesign the city’s truck route network to improve safety, increase visibility, reduce traffic congestion and emissions, and reduce vehicle miles traveled.”
Councilmember Alexa Avilés of Sunset Park, Brooklyn has sponsored the legislation.
“Leaving our truck network untouched since the 1970s, can you believe that? A lot has changed in the world. This is well overdue,” she said.
The legislation would also require DOT to consult with agencies, residents, and representatives from businesses, environmental and climate justice organizations, street safety organizations, industrial business zone administrators, and the trucking, logistics and last-mile delivery industries.
DOT representatives gave testimony and answered questions from council members at Monday’s hearing of the council transportation committee.
Eric Beaton, deputy commissioner for transportation planning and management, said the administration supports the redesign.
“We look forward to creating a safer and more sustainable and efficient freight system that grows the economy, supports jobs, and delivers the goods that residents and businesses need,” he said.
Currently, trucks are limited to specific routes, including some local streets. The department would work, generally, to allow trucks in commercial districts, industrial areas and on wider streets.
“The network does have to create connect to itself in a reasonable way. We will find the best streets to do that,” Beaton said.
The DOT has been working on the issue on a number of fronts.
The agency is creating delivery spaces and zones along streets, encouraging cargo bike delivery, and signing up companies to deliver overnight. Long-term solutions include more use of the city’s waterways for deliveries.
The bill has more than a majority number of sponsors.
“It’s not about killing the industry. We have to think about the quality of life for the people who live where they’re driving through and accountability,” said Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, chair of the council transportation committee.
UPROSE is a community action group based in Sunset Park that promotes sustainability and resiliency.
“They can work together to reroute truck paths to insure congestion and health issues in areas that have been overlooked are prioritized finally,” said Sarah Elbakari with UPROSE.
Neighbors organized a task force in Queens and have worked with the administration of Mayor Eric Adams to address overnight truck parking. Bill Perkins, who serves on the task force, credits enforcement and dialogue with the trucking industry.
”Working to find places to park. They want to do the right thing. The trucking association is partnering to make sure communities are not infested with trucks,” Perkins said.
Beaton asked the council to reconsider one portion that would also require the implementation of daylighting at each intersection adjacent to the truck route network. The department would prefer to review each location and determine what’s best.
If the full City Council passes the bill, the department would submit draft by the beginning of November.