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If you live in Greenfield Hill or anywhere along State Route 136 in Easton, Fairfield or Westport, you’ve likely become aware of the onerous stream of large trucks that use our communities as a cut-through from I-84 to I-95.
Even occasional travelers on Route 136 are likely to experience an 18-wheeler barreling up behind them. This happened to me twice this fall when I was up that way. How, you may ask, can a state road with multiple “No Thru Truck” signs posted along the way remain host to so many large, unwelcome vehicles?
For three years I have been working to answer this question and to strengthen enforcement of the state's existing No Thru Truck law. Our local police departments provide extraordinary service and attention to community concerns but have found the current statute difficult to enforce.
The No Thru Truck road designation was created in the 1970s in an effort to deter truck traffic from residential roads. The intent of the law is to prohibit trucks from using our roads as a shortcut from one highway to another. Any truck is permitted to travel through a community if its business originated there, or if it has a drop-off or pickup in that community. Two key questions arising from the statute have hampered enforcement:
1) Is there probable cause under the law as written to pull over a truck simply for being a truck?
2) When a truck is pulled over on a No Thru Truck road, how does the driver prove to the officer he is there legally?
The state has held two public hearings on these issues over the past three years, giving numerous residents and law enforcement officials from across the state an opportunity to be heard.
In Fairfield County alone, there are 22 roads designated as No Thru Truck zones. Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara has voiced concerns about public safety and noted frustrations over his officers' inability to issue citations to truck drivers on No Thru Truck roads.
Despite strong resistance from the truck lobby to any changes in the law, some relief may be in sight. The state and local police have agreed to work together to toughen enforcement practices on No Thru Truck roads.
Fairfield, Easton and Westport neighbors should keep an eye out for a reduction in truck traffic as a result of these changes. We may not be able to completely eliminate those intrusive trucks, but residents will soon be able to celebrate significant progress in making our local roads safer and quieter.
State Rep. Kim Fawcett
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