Ithaca, N.Y. — One solution to truck safety following the fatal crash at Simeon’s Restaurant would be to simply prohibit trucks from driving on the major state highways that run into Ithaca.
But that response is likely “next to impossible” to implement barring some unforeseen change in federal and state law, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton said in an interview Wednesday.
Even if it made sense as a matter of policy, it almost certainly wouldn’t pass legal muster, according to Lifton, who said she learned this information from officials with the New York State Department of Transporation.
The state, for instance, would probably be sued if it mandated that trucks were forbidden from these roadways, Lifton said. The highways are regulated by the federal government under the interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Lifton said.
“I’d like to see trucks not coming down that hill to the Commons,” Lifton said. “The thing I’m hearing from DOT is that this is next to impossible. But we’re going to look to see if there’s a way.”
City, county and state officials are scrambling for solutions after the June 20 crash that killed a young pregnant mother and hospitalized several others.
A working group formed by the county legislature, Ithaca mayor, assemblywoman and Department of Transporation will be examining every possible fix under the sun. And they’ll be moving quickly, Lifton said.
“If they say, ‘This is a good safety measure; we can do it right now; it can help,’ we’re going to go ahead and do it,” Lifton said.
One idea being floated is to force the trucks on a detour that would take them to take a less steep entryway to the city. But, tabling the legal issues, many don’t think directing heavy truck traffic through Dryden is a good solution, she said.
“I have heard from others that they’re concerned about rerouting (truck traffic) through small communities,” Lifton said.
Officials will continue to pour over suggested fixes. We’ll be sure to provide updates as discussions continue.