Oyster Bay officials are exploring legal and political avenues to reinstate a ban on large trucks on South Oyster Bay Road, but state and federal officials say the town would be overstepping its authority.
Area residents have been battling the presence of big rigs since shortly after the state Department of Transportation in December declared a 4-mile stretch of the road south of the Long Island Expressway a "designated truck access highway."
That increased the maximum truck length on the road from 48 to 65 feet for most trucks, and 75 feet for auto carriers.StoryTown sets hearing for big rig ban on major roadStoryPols to state: Restore truck ban on local road
Residents complained the trucks endanger a street lined with homes, a school, houses of worship, stores and offices.
Town Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia said she introduced a resolution to restore the big-truck ban because the state will not. "Why must we wait for a fatal accident before we take action?" she asked.
Public hearings on the proposal are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 10. Town Supervisor John Venditto said a vote could occur that night.
But officials with NYSDOT and the Federal Highway Administration say only the state can de-designate the road, and only if there is a proven history of truck-related accidents there and other safety problems.
"Local governments do not have the authority to make changes to roadways designated as reasonable access routes," the highway administration said in a statement.
Federal law oversees access that trucks have to the national highway network.
Venditto said attorneys for the town concluded the resolution does not violate state or federal law.
"Pursuant to the vehicle and traffic law, the town does have the jurisdiction, the authority, the power to control the weights and sizes of vehicles on South Oyster Bay Road, and we're going to exercise that power," he said.
In addition to reimposing the 48-foot length limit, the resolution would prohibit trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds and measuring above 13 feet in height.
If the resolution passes, "we will be prepared to defend it in a court of law," Venditto said.
That would create a quandary for Nassau County police over whether to enforce a law enacted by the town but deemed invalid by state and federal governments.
Nassau police were not immediately prepared to comment. Det. Michael Bitsko, a police department spokesman, said in an email, "that this department has not seen the law and would need additional information in order to comment on this issue."
NYSDOT spokesman Gary Holmes said that before state officials approved the truck-route designation -- requested on behalf of FedEx -- they asked county and town officials if they objected. No one spoke up, he said. County and town officials blame each other for not objecting, which would have triggered a public meeting on the proposal.
State officials have argued, though, that even if there had been objections, federal law required the agency to grant the truck-route designation, because it met required safety criteria.
But the highway administration said in its statement that NYSDOT had the freedom to deny the designation.
Hicksville resident Tanya Lukasik, who has vocally opposed the big rigs, said the state "failed to conduct their due diligence, and as a result you have very dangerous public safety hazards that clearly could have been preventable."