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Residents, lawmakers widely opposed to new truck route on South Oyster Bay Road

A big rig truck heads south on South

A big rig truck heads south on South Oyster Bay Road near Our Lady of Mercy School in Hicksville on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Nassau County and Town of Oyster Bay officials are joining residents of several communities in urging the state to restore a ban on large trucks along South Oyster Bay Road.

The rumbling of big rigs past homes, a school, stores and offices has residents worried about children getting hit crossing the street and trucks colliding with cars, and has spurred complaints about noise disturbing neighborhood tranquillity.

In December, the state Department of Transportation granted a request made on behalf of FedEx Corp. to deem four miles of the road -- from the Long Island Expressway to Route 107 -- as a "designated truck access highway," allowing double-trailer trucks as long as 65 feet as well as auto carriers as long as 75 feet.

The previous truck limit was 48 feet. A FedEx facility is near the southern terminus of the road in Bethpage.

NYSDOT spokesman Gary Holmes said the department notified county and town officials of the proposed designation, but neither objected. If either had, the department would have been required under state law to hold a "public informational meeting" on the proposal.

Town Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia said South Oyster Bay is a county road and that the county should have filed an objection.

But county public works spokeswoman Mary Studdert said a letter from a state engineer was addressed to a town official, not the county, and that the town has jurisdiction over truck-related issues.

Hicksville resident Tanya Lukasik said she's frustrated how "they're all pointing fingers at each other." Both town and county officials should have notified residents, who found out about it when trucks appeared, she said.

Assemb. Michael Montesano (R-Glen Head) said that, as a result of the change, staffers in his office are drafting legislation requiring the state to directly notify the public of a proposed truck designation.

"The public should be notified and have their input because they're the ones who have to live with it every day," he said.

Jane Harrigan, principal of Our Lady of Mercy School, said trucks put children at risk crossing South Oyster Bay Road to get to class and school buses and cars turning left onto school property. She fears trucks may not be able to stop in time to avoid a tragedy.

FedEx officials said in a statement that a planned expansion led to the request for a new truck route that other businesses use as well.

Alesia said trucks should use nearby Route 106/107, a longtime truck route. She said that at Tuesday's town board meeting she plans to propose a public hearing on legislation being drafted to impose truck restrictions on South Oyster Bay Road.

But Holmes said the town cannot override the state on truck access roads. Federal law required the state to grant the requested designation because certain safety criteria were met, and withdrawal of the designation can only occur if safety problems -- such as truck accidents or large trucks veering into other lanes while turning -- can be proven, he said.

"If nothing's changed in the areas we review, the designation has to stand," Holmes said.

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