PIKE JOB AT STANDSTILL
Police Blockade of Trucks Hauling Dirt Fill Halts All Work on Toll Road
Newark Evening News, May 28, 1951
ELIZABETH. A police-imposed blockade of
trucks hauling fill to the New Jersey Turnpike construction here was
continued this morning. The work came to a virtual halt yesterday, although
a number of trucks were able to deliver their loads through confusion
among police concerning the stoppage order.
The blockade was ordered by the Board
of Works late Thursday as the city's final step in its efforts to make
the Turnpike Authority accede to local demands for men and equipment
to arrest the dust emanating from turnpike construction.
Despite fervent pleas by representatives
of the authority and contractors to permit the trucks to roll, city
officials refused to budge and the truck stoppage continued throughout
One Break in Blockade
Police began stopping the trucks at 10:15
A.M. Initially they permitted the drivers to proceed with loads to the
turnpike site, but the drivers were ordered to dispose of their cargoes
and not return to the city until the dispute had been settled.
The only break in the police blockade,
except for a few trucks which failed to follow a prescribed route through
the city and consequently were able to elude police, came about 2:20
P.M. when 36 trucks were permitted to roll as the result of an unauthorized
order by a police official.
As soon as the action was brought to the
attention of Deputy Police Chief Coughlin and Inspector Flaherty, who
are directing the blockade, the order was countermanded and the blockade
Truck Driver Arrested
Indications that the truckers were moving
into the city along routes not authorized by the city, in one instance
brought quick action and an arrest. Radio Patrolmen Geumpel and Maloney
arrested Herbert Keating of 370 Monmouth road, truck driver for the
Lincoln Construction Co., as a disorderly person. He was apprehended
in Magie avenue and Summit road, several blocks from the authorized
There were indications that the city's
demands for dust control measures would be realized sometime today to
permit resumption of trucking operations.
This was brought out yesterday in a conference
at police headquarters called after the imposition of the blockade and
attended by city officials, representatives of the authority, and firms
affected by the stoppage.
The city, in a Board of Works resolution
adopted Thursday, demanded that the operation be halted "until
such time as the Turnpike Authority establishes an adequate sprinkling
system, a maintenance crew with a reasonable number of men, waters the
loads on their trucks and removes the menace to health from the accumulation
The board's order was primarily aimed
at improving conditions in Fourth street, site of most of the work on
the toll road. Residents of that locality complained repeatedly of dust
and dirt conditions.
George Fox, project manager of Grow Construction
Co. told the city officials that his firm had acquired a 3,800-gallon
water sprinkling truck, which it would put in operation today. He added
that his firm would maintain a crew of men with a small pickup truck
to serve as a maintenance crew. He also pointed out that truckloads
were being watered.
Pleads on Stoppage
Fox pleaded that the stoppage order be
withdrawn immediately on the strength of the plans for dust control,
which he said would go into effect today.
"If you don't allow us to resume
operations immediately," Fox said, "you may make it impossible
for us to complete our construction schedule on time. This stoppage
could result in the truckers quitting the job. If this happens, it will
only prolong conditions which have been the source of complaints. The
longer the job takes, the longer the complaints will be heard."
His plea was reiterated by Dean Edwards,
project manager for the authority in this area; Ward Herbert, attorney
for the authority, and Paul Flytall, of the Lincoln Construction Co.
City Officials Unmoved
The city officials, led by Board of Works
Commissioner Runyon, refused to yield. Runyon told Fox the order would
stand until the men and equipment to combat the dust conditions were
on the job.
Meanwhile, police interference in the
turnpike work was the basis of a plea for more money by drivers for
Twenty of the truckers met late yesterday
with a spokesman for the firm and asked to be heard on grievances. Although
the drivers were told to present their complaints at a private conference
with company officials, their demands were no secret.
The drivers complained that their present
pay of 65 cents a cubic yard of dirt hauled was inadequate for taking
longer routes to dodge police blockades. And with stoppages such as
those imposed yesterday, the drivers added, they were no longer able
to make six or eight trips a day.
For worthwhile pay, the drivers contended,
it takes at least nine or 10 hauls in a 12-hour day. "It's not
enough money to begin with, but the police are making the situation
worse," they declared.
Because most of the drivers operate their
own trucks, their fees must pay for the vehicles' maintenance, the drivers
Courtesy of the Newark Public Library.