The area round the Capitol sounded more like Manhattan this morning as an ensemble of horns blared. But these weren’t yellow cabbies laying on their horns in gridlock; they were tractor-trailer, flatbed truck and dumptruck drivers venting over high diesel fuel prices.
More than 130 trucks from as far away as Michigan and Virginia descended on Albany for a boisterous rally outside the Capitol. They prodded lawmakers to do something to reel in diesel prices soaring in the $5-per-gallon stratosphere.
Two convoys — each stretching miles long — made their way to Albany from Fort Ann and Fultonville. After joining where the New York State Thruway meets the Adirondack Northway at Exit 24, they blared their horns as they slowly rolled into Albany, stopping near the east steps of the Capitol. When the horns went silent, angry voices erupted.
“It’s killing us. The price is outrageous. Something’s gotta happen,” said Aaron Hill, a driver for Longhorn Trucking in Fort Plain whose rig was among the row of trucks parked along Washington Avenue.
At a rally attended by more than 200, drivers called for an array of measures ranging from a gas tax holiday to lower highway tolls.
On Friday, the cost of a gallon of diesel in the Capital Region was $5.07, up 70.5 percent from $2.97 a year earlier, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.
Barry Tybor’s blue truck was toward the head of the procession that rolled down Washington Avenue. The National Transportation Brokers driver carried diesel fuel receipts from earlier this month, ranging from $565 to $695.
Tybor, a 24-year trucker, primarily hauls paper products from Finch Pruyn & Co. in Glens Falls to Fultonville. He said the higher fuel prices are making it harder for him to pay the mortgage for his Gloversville home.
“It’s like a roller coaster ride, and it’s getting worse,” Tybor said.
Scenes similar to the one in Albany have been appearing around the globe as $130-a-barrel crude oil pushes many businesses toward their breaking points. The Albany rally was coordinated by Truckers and Citizens United, a group from the Harrisburg, Pa., area that touts 52,000 members. Since being created in March, the group has held rallies in Harrisburg and Washington D.C.
Unlike similar protests earlier this month over diesel prices in Spain and Portugal, where two truckers died, the Albany rally was mostly peaceful, aside from the noise. But Truckers and Citizens United members did threaten more protests that would “shut down” Manhattan and Washington.
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