Nov 28, 2008 Miranda L. Pennock Uncategorized
At 12:45 p.m. Friday, air horns could be heard in downtown Skaneateles heralding the coming convoy. Minutes later, hundreds of trucks and tractor trailers chugged into Skaneateles over Routes 5 & 20, the village’s main drag.
The convoy had been planned for more than a month and rolled into town on Black Friday to protest proposed state Department of Transportation regulations that could potentially limit where large trucks travel throughout the Finger Lakes Region.
Marcie Wells of Montezuma and several members of her family were standing on the edge of West Genesee Street in the village of Skaneateles early Friday awaiting the convoy. Wells’ husband, a diesel mechanic, was riding shotgun in one of the trucks.
“It’s terrible,” said Cliff Copp, one of Wells’ relatives. Copp said that without trucks traveling the roads, deliveries simply can’t be made.
“It all goes by truck,” he said, adding that whether goods come in by boat or train, to get the items to the towns off those paths, trucks are needed to carry them.
While residents and visitors gathered on the sides of Route 20, local officials were awaiting the arrival of more than 200 trucks. At the Skaneateles Fire Department, the police department set up a command post where Skaneateles police, New York State Police and Skaneateles Fire personnel were on standby.
For the fire department, more than 30 volunteers were on standby “just in case there’s a call,” said firefighter Bill Murphy. Fearful there would be an emergency call, the firefighters gathered in the morning at the station to be on hand should the tones come over their scanners.
According to Kathy Murphy, much of the concern for safety was directed toward the pedestrians because of the amount of traffic coming through the village.
State Trooper Jack Keller agreed that the biggest concern was for public safety, particularly with it being one the biggest shopping day of the year. With the Dickens Christmas festival officially opening Friday, and the convoy, there were a number of people gathering at the intersections trying to cross the streets.
The state police was assisting the village officers throughout the day, and Keller said his understanding of the truck traffic was the drivers would be traveling down Route 20 and be going through without stopping. However, there had been rumor that some drivers may attempt to stop en route to Seneca Falls, their final destination.
Keller said the troopers were on hand, in the event that trucks did stop, to get traffic rolling again.
“I can’t remember the last time that we dealt with something like this,” he said, adding the police were set to do whatever they needed to do to keep the flow of trucks moving.
With the large trucks coming in, Keller said if there were vehicles stopping to make local deliveries it would not be a problem.
When the band of trucks arrived in the village, officers were ready to hold foot traffic at the cross walks downtown. Not only were officers at each of the corners in the business district, there were also state police vehicles in the line of rigs heading east on Genesee Street.
Trucks traveled from across New York as well as from other states to be part of the convoy. A few of the towns scrawled in paint on the doors of the trucks cabs included Weedsport, Lansing, Syracuse, Marcellus, Clifton Springs, Holley, Byron and Skaneateles.
Tom O’Toole of Skaneateles was standing on Genesee Street across from the lake and said the event was a “normal day, just with horns.”
A majority of the drivers coming through were honking their horns as they passed the crowds, waving and giving the thumbs up to passers by. Cars and local delivery trucks, as they passed the convoy heading west, honked in response and also waved to the people watching.
Claire Howard, also of Skaneateles, was holding a sign asking that the watershed be protected. Though she is not against local haulers or truck drivers, she would like to see an end to trash haulers from New Jersey and New York City driving though the Finger Lakes.
“It poses a danger,” she said. “It’s disaster waiting to happen.”
According to Howard, she thinks the solution to stopping garbage trucks from cutting though the region would be for New York City to pay the tolls for the garbage trucks drivers in order to keep them on the New York State Thruway.
“We need to take steps to protect our watershed,” Howard said.