Brooklyn Heights

Bill fining overweight trucks on BQE becomes law

New York will pilot Gounardes, Simon’s Weigh-in-Motion Program

August 3, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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BROOKLYN HEIGHTS – Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill on Thursday that will use state-of-the-art technology to weigh and fine illegally overweight trucks that use the crumbling Triple Cantilever section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, enables the implementation of the first-in-the-nation program to pilot a Weigh-in-Motion (WIM) system to hold trucking scofflaws accountable for the damage they cause to the highway and environment.

“The BQE is in serious need of revitalization, and I’m proud that my first-in-the-nation program to keep New Yorkers safer from its crumbling infrastructure is now reality,” Gounardes said in a release. “We must move forward with all possible speed to re-design and re-imagine the presence of this expressway in our communities, and to continue to safeguard it in the meantime as we do so.”

“Illegally overweight trucks have caused significant damage to the BQE Triple Cantilever and to our environment,” Simon said. “That’s why I’m thrilled that New York is leading the way with our first-in-the-nation WIM program to get rid of these overweight trucks and extend the useful life of the BQE, while reducing carbon emissions. Thanks to Governor Hochul for signing my bill into law, to Senator Gounardes for championing this bill in the Senate, to Commissioner Rodriguez for his support, and to the BQE expert panel who first recommended we consider this technology.”

According to a 2020 study, approximately 11% of the trucks on the BQE every day are estimated to exceed the federal weight limit of 40 tons, or 80,000 pounds. However, the only enforcement that is currently possible for overweight trucks is cumbersome and under-utilized, as it requires trucks to be physically removed from the expressway and then weighed on a scale.

The WIM program will enable the NYPD’s BQE Truck Enforcement Task Force to automatically record the axle weights and gross weights of vehicles using pressure-sensitive sensors as they drive on the BQE, with cameras taking photo evidence of vehicles’ plates, and the DMV mailing a fine to the owner of the vehicle. Regular calibration checks will ensure the WIM program will be implemented using the highest standards in the nation. WIM legislation was first passed in 2021, but this new bill was needed to ensure that calibration checks can be properly implemented.

Gounardes’ bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support, and Simon’s bill passed in the Assembly unanimously. There is a 90-day warning period for overweight trucks once the program begins, after which time trucks will be subject to a $650 fine per violation. The New York City Department of Transportation has informed the bill sponsors that they expect the program and the 90-day warning period to begin next week.

“The BQE is a Robert Moses-era relic in need of forward-thinking 21st-century solutions to reduce traffic, meet our climate goals and bring communities back together. Today, we must protect the existing highway from further deterioration. This legislation will accomplish that by utilizing state-of-the-art technology to create a first-in-the-nation pilot to hold overweight trucks accountable and protect our infrastructure,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez. “I want to thank state Senator Gounardes and Assemblymember Simon for their innovative legislation, and Governor Hochul for signing it.”

“I’m thankful for the leadership of Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon in securing the passage of their bill to put in place a WIM system that will hold truck drivers accountable,” said Rep. Dan Goldman. “The future of the already vulnerable BQE is in jeopardy and this system will be able to help enforce against drivers that are adding to the stress on this dilapidated infrastructure. Thank you to Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law.”

“We must do everything we can to keep the BQE triple cantilever functional and safe, including the removal of illegal, overweight trucks,” said Councilmember Lincoln Restler. “With the Governor signing this legislation sponsored by Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, I hope the NYC Department of Transportation can swiftly implement automated enforcement against dangerous trucks in both directions of the BQE.”

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