Engineer coming to answer questions about road use law
By Dan Hust
HORTONVILLE January 18 Delta Engineers Road Protection Program Manager Chris Maby insists local truckers, developers, contractors and support businesses have little to fear from a road use/preservation law under consideration in townships across western Sullivan County.
“Typically it’s just going to be another piece of paper they’re going to have to fill out,” he said in a recent interview. “If it takes more than an hour, I’d be surprised.”
Maby was referring to an application form that will be required of any construction project seeking to utilize town roads.
It’s already the law in Cochecton and Tusten, and the towns of Callicoon, Delaware, Highland, Lumberland and Rockland are approaching decisions.
Along with Bethel (which is nearing introduction of its own rewritten version of the law), the townships comprise the Multi-Municipal Task Force (MMTF).
For the past three years, town officials, attorneys and Delta have been drafting not just the legal language but technical and program manuals which detail complicated formulas used to regulate heavy truck traffic on town roads and have companies pay for damage to those roads.
Originally envisioned as a pre-emptive response to gas drilling’s arrival, the language has since been expanded to include other kinds of heavy truck traffic, including the construction industry which has led to concern that local contractors and developers will suffer extra costs, hassles and politics.
Enough questions and concerns have been raised at recent public hearings to slow down the law’s adoption in towns like Highland, Callicoon and Delaware.
In Bethel, in fact, a town committee recommended not adopting the law, for fear it would be in conflict with the NYS Constitution.
So at the request of Delaware and Callicoon leaders, Maby is coming to Delaware’s town hall in Hortonville on Thursday, January 24 at 7 p.m. for a public Q&A.
“People ask questions we can’t answer,” said Delaware Supervisor Ed Sykes. “We thought this would be a great opportunity to ask questions of the very people who drafted this.”
Maby’s answers, however, won’t be set in concrete, as he acknowledged that each town is free to tweak the rules as its town board sees fit.
“It comes down to exactly the wording that’s in each specific local law,” Maby said.
For example, Delta has recommended that the road use law only apply to what the federal government defines as Class 5 and above trucks basically any truck other than pickups, vans and buses (with exceptions for agricultural and delivery vehicles, among others).
Within those affected classes, Delta’s calculations indicate that it would take between 35 trips (for the heaviest trucks) and 192 trips (for the lightest trucks) for a given project to trigger anything beyond requiring the aforementioned application.
“We shouldn’t be affecting baseline traffic,” Maby said.
But setting those thresholds is ultimately up to the town boards who pass the law.
“Whatever they elect to use, they should stick with it,” said Maby.
While he admitted that skepticism remains about the implementation of such a law, close to 50 upstate New York municipalities have already adopted or are in the process of adopting Delta-developed road use laws, with 23 more in contract.
Both he and Sykes hope to answer questions and allay fears next week if people come out to ask.
“It’s a pretty dry subject,” admitted Sykes.