Nassau County police on Friday began enforcing a ban on large trucks along a 3-mile stretch of South Oyster Bay Road, but the future of the law remains unclear as state and federal authorities say that the Oyster Bay town board overstepped its authority by imposing the prohibition.
The ban, enacted in response to resident complaints about noise and exhaust fumes, along with safety concerns, went into effect on Nov. 19. Police said that, before Friday, they issued only warnings to drivers of trucks prohibited by the ban.
The dispute over the trucks began in December 2014, when the New York State Department of Transportation granted a request made on behalf of FedEx Corp. to deem the road south of the Long Island Expressway and north of Aerospace Boulevard a “designated truck access highway.” That lifted the 48-foot length limit for trucks that is the norm on most roads in the town.
Local residents said that big rigs soon began rumbling down the road, waking them at night, spewing exhaust, and making driving on the road dangerous. They said large trucks were inappropriate on a street lined with homes, a school and houses of worship, in addition to strip malls and offices.
The town board responded in November with a prohibition on trucks longer than 48 feet, heavier than 10,000 pounds and taller than 13 feet. The law makes exceptions for trucks that are making local deliveries or briefly using the road to get to warehouses and other facilities.
State and federal transportation department officials say that, because states enforce federal requirements on truck-route designations, only the state can make such regulations for the road and only if there is a proven history of safety problems.
A NYSDOT statement said state officials are working to “identify the most appropriate action.” Town officials say they have the right to impose restrictions.
On Thursday, town workers installed truck-ban signs on the road, including near Long Island Expressway ramps, town spokeswoman Marta Kane said.
In the weeks leading up to the installation, police visited area businesses and explained the new law, said Nassau County police spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun. He spoke Friday morning as several feet away an officer pulled over a truck on South Oyster Bay and Woodbury roads.
The driver was not ticketed because he was making a local delivery. LeBrun predicted that more trucks would avoid the road as drivers see the signs and spread the word about enforcement.
Town Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia, who introduced the truck-ban resolution, said some companies may not have been aware of the law.
“We’re trying to speak to the companies and deal with them in a friendly fashion so they want to do the right thing by the neighborhood,” Alesia said.
Jeff Forcelli, an attorney for Bethpage Industrial Park, which includes light industrial sites and offices near South Oyster Bay Road, testified against the prohibition during the November town board meeting. But, he said last week, “No one has been complaining to me about this, so I guess they’re learning to live with it.”
Hicksville resident Jim Spychalsky, 46, said the ban may have made “a slight difference,” but the screech of engine brakes still keeps him awake some nights.
“They’re going by right now,” Spychalsky said as he talked on the phone on a recent afternoon. “It’s like they’re in my backyard.”
Ed Bond, 62, of Plainview, said the trucks continue to affect “our property values, our health and our quality of life.”