In October, Jenny Gough had only been monitoring truck traffic for a half hour when she nearly became a statistic herself. Standing on the corner of Hunts Point Avenue and Garrison, counting passing trucks as part of a community study, Gough suddenly saw a driverless truck careening down the hill toward her. Just before it climbed onto the sidewalk, Gough leaped out of its path.
The truck splintered a fire department call box and slammed into the front of the corner bodega. Although no one was hurt, the incident proved what Hunts Point residents have been saying all along: Truck traffic is a menace to the neighborhood.
“It’s evidence that trucks in this neighborhood are out of control,” Gough says. As a volunteer for the community group Mothers on the Move, she was watching traffic in order to push the city to change current truck routes. Local residents say they are overburdened by the garbage and delivery trucks that flood this mixed industrial and residential neighborhood, Last year, one study found that 10,000 trucks go into Hunts Point each week.
Past run-ins with the Department of Transportation have locals worried that their suggestions won’t be taken seriously. Talks, petitions and letter campaigns have never worked; it took public demonstrations to push DOT to install speed bumps, traffic lights and stop signs. It’s more likely that residents will see only minor changes to the routes, say local officials.
John Robert, District Manager of the Hunts Point Community Board, believes that MOM’s proposed route should take into account the business community’s interests. “Hunts Point is a highly industrial community, and we can’t change a truck route to satisfy the tenants of one building, who may be in the middle of eight blocks of industrial buildings,” he says. Robert believes that more signs designating legal truck routes, along with stepped-up police enforcement, is the only reasonable answer. Residents, on the other hand, argue that truckers often violate the laws, and that police don’t heed their calls.
Now that the census part of the MOM study is over, Gough and other volunteers don’t have to worry about wayward trucks. But while off-duty, Hunts Point residents say they usually look both ways–even on one-way streets.