Sunday, 14 August 2016


The illegal truck stop that has North Jersey cops at their wit's end

A tractor-trailer parked on the shoulder on I-287 in Mahwah. Local officials say despite their efforts to keep trucks from parking on the highway, truckers still stop night after night.
MAHWAH — Every night, day after day, hulking tractor-trailers line up here, on the shoulder of I-287, idling for hours at this illegal truck stop.
The drivers come out to smoke as cars whiz past. They stretch and rest on the extra-wide shoulder, just minutes from the New York state line.

Despite tickets, signs and police patrols in the area, the trucks return night after night. Mahwah officials, for their part, say they are at their wit's end with the trucks, and that their efforts to curb what they say is a dangerous situation have proven unsuccessful.
"We come along and move them but an hour later they are back," Mahwah Chief of Police James Batelli said. "We can't continue to allocate resources every night."
Trucks are banned from using the Garden State Parkway north of exit 105, but a reader says he sees them driving on it anyway. What's allow and what's not?
And when confronted, many drivers tell police that they can't drive anymore because they have exceeded the amount of miles they can legally drive in the day, Batelli said.
"If you don't arrive at a truck stop by 1 to 2 p.m. in New York or New Jersey you won't get a spot," Rick Toutges, a truck driver from South Dakota, said Friday at the nearby Pilot truck stop on Route 17. "We can only drive 11 hours a day, and when that's up we can't go anymore because we'll get fined."
Highway America
Kevin Johnson, a trucker from "the great state of Michigan," agreed that it was dangerous to park illegally on the side of an interstate, but also decried the fact that there's very little parking for truckers. 
"Look at where I'm at (now), squeezed in here," Johnson said as his truck stood in a corner of the packed Pilot truck stop. "They need to build more stops."
The shoulder of road where the trucks stop on 287 is particular dangerous due to steep inclines and the merging of the highway from three lanes into two, Batelli said.
He said he would like the shoulder narrowed or removed.
"This is truly a state problem," Batelli said. "I wish the state took more engineering studies of the area."
A spokesman from the state Department of Transportation said the agency has not heard from Mahwah officials about the problem.
"There are a number of private rest stops throughout the state that accommodate truck drivers," said Steve Schapiro, communications director at the DOT. "It's important to remember that it is unlawful to stop on the shoulders of state highways except for emergencies, which makes this a law enforcement issue."
Batelli said State Police routinely patrol the area, but the trucks return soon after they are moved . . . 
Fausto Giovanny Pinto may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @FGPreporting

Peter Blakeborough, a former interstate driver, say truck drivers have three options:

One. They can keep on driving after they have exceeded their legal driving hours, risking a fine, or worse going to sleep at the wheel and killing someone.

Two. They can park illegally when they have run out of hours and failed to fine safe and legal parking, risking another fine and a possible accident.

Three. They can abandon truck driving and let others worry about delivering the goods on time, often to the very people who show no consideration for the welfare of truckers.

It has been clear for many years that governments, federal and state, have no intention to fund adequate parking for interstate trucks. They fail to understand that these drivers do not return to their home depots every night. They are normally on the road for weeks at a time. Many states do provide rest areas close to interstates, but these are few and far between in heavily populated states like New Jersey and New York. In many rest areas trucks are restricted to four hours parking, even though the law requires drivers to rest for ten continuous hours. For truck drivers, whatever they do, they will be damned if they do and damned if they don't.

American truck parking is a shameful fiasco and the main culprit is federal and state governments. For years they have been playing the famous American game called Pass the Buck. It's time the buck stopped.

Saturday, 6 August 2016


Billions could be saved with a permanent Olympic city state

There will never be an end to the waste, cost overruns and the failed political and economic dreams of Olympic host cities, until a permanent Olympic city state is created and made available for all world sporting events.

Once established, a permanent site could generate a surplus of funds that would enable smaller nations and less well-off sports and sports people to participate. Ideally, the site would be situated in northern Europe, northern Asia, or North America in a locality where both the summer and winter climates are reliable. It would also have to be a locality with suitable geography.

Many countries have successful and attractive purpose-built capital cities. That concept has always worked well. Now it is time for the world to build a completely new city state as the world sporting capital.  Transforming an existing city in the territory of an existing country would be a bad compromise that would be bound to fail for political reasons. It would only result in the site having to relocate again and again, as it does now.

While such a city state would likely be surrounded by another country it would have to be independent of that country with its own government, elected parliament, border protection and international airport, and everything else that goes with an independent state.  For the nation giving up a slice of its territory, there would be huge benefits with trade, business and employment. But the new city state would have to be assured of political independence for the concept to work. And ideally it would not be the IOC that would have governmental control of the new city state, but the elected representatives of the citizens of the new state after founding support from the UN and the participating countries.

The funds required for establishing the new city and venues could be met by the participating nations, who would also share the benefits and the profits. A permanent Olympic city could also become the world’s most successful tourist city, and the ultimate place to do business, to be in employment, or to raise a family. The spin-offs could be astronomical.

So why not make that place the place where it all began so long ago? Unfortunately, Greece does not meet the reliable year round climatic conditions. The winters are too mild. The site must have reliable summer and winter conditions with terrain that is both level and sloping, areas suitable for water events, and rural spaces suitable for building a major city with all that that entails.

Some people have suggested that two sites are needed. For example, the Summer Olympics could be held in Greece and the Winter Olympics in Canada. But in this case two are not going to live cheaper than one, and building one Olympic city and state from scratch will be a major undertaking on its own.

To quote the Washington Post, “The Olympics are bad for cities. So why do we keep asking new places to invest billions of dollars in state-of-the-art stadiums they’ll never use again?” The Post continues with, “The Summer Olympics are one of the biggest spectacles in the world, and come with a hefty price tag. Hosting the Games demands major urban infrastructural investment, new or expensively upgraded sporting venues, and housing for 10,000 athletes (plus thousands of spectators). As the German economist Holger Preuss has shown, this crowds out other forms of public investment, such as spending on education and social welfare that may better serve the long-term needs of citizens.” 

Hosting the Olympics is a dream-boom and a reality-bust business and most host cities later regret having taken up the challenge.

It is often claimed that hosting the Olympics is good for tourism. But, while there may be some possible long-term gains for tourism, this is doubtful. In the short term the disruption to the regular flow of tourist is horrendous and frustrating due to over-stretched facilities and predatory pricing.

So, you may ask, who will use the facilities between the four-yearly events? Firstly, the Olympics could become an annual or bi-annual event. But there is also a plethora of other international sporting events constantly looking for venues.  Here is a list of sports that hold world championships: World sports And what better place would there for holding a conference or convention that at the Olympic World Centre?

More on the permanent Olympic proposal can be read by clicking on these links: