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Gov. George E. Pataki announced Friday (June 27) that New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Joseph H. Boardman and Thruway Authority Executive Director Michael R. Fleischer signed blanket waivers authorizing RVs up to 45 feet long to travel on highways operated by New York state, except state parkways.
“Tourism comprises a significant part of New York State’s economy, and it is vital to ensure that people seeking fun and relaxation from our mountains to our beaches are able to travel state operated highways, free from onerous restrictions,” Pataki said. “With this waiver, we are inviting those who own large recreational vehicles to come and experience everything the great people of New York state have to offer.”
The waiver will facilitate two RVer conventions: the Good Sam Club’s New York State “Country Western” Samboree in Frankfort, July 11-13 and the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) International Convention in Hamburg July 18-20.
In addition to relaxing the vehicle length restriction, the waiver requires drivers of any RV more than 40 feet in length or more than 26,000 pounds to have an R endorsement from the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to ensure they are qualified to safely operate such vehicles. RV operators are required to pass a DMV road test to receive the R endorsement.
RVs more than 40 feet in length also are required to have a wall-to-wall turning diameter of 90 feet, 3 inches or less to ensure the vehicle can stay in the appropriate lane when making an intersection turn.
Owners are required to carry a letter from the vehicle manufacturer certifying the turning diameter.
The waiver also allows for maximum vehicle width to be extended on the large RVs to provide for awnings. A motorhome measured awning to awning will be allowed a maximum width of 112 inches, and a fifth-wheel will be allowed a width of 108 inches, awning to awning.
Any vehicle exceeding a base width of 96 inches, exclusive of awnings, is legal only on state highways with lane widths of 10 feet or on designated truck access routes.
The waiver does not apply within the boundaries of New York City. However, access to Long Island is allowed on I-95 from the Westchester County line through the Bronx to I-295 and I-495 east into Nassau and Suffolk counties.
New York was one of only seven states that did not allow RVs of more than 40 feet in length within its borders.
All New York border states, except for New Jersey, allow 45-foot RVs, resulting in a loss of tourist dollars in New York.
“New York state is a tourist destination that attracts millions of visitors each year, boosting our economy, and we want to welcome those who wish to travel and vacation here in large RVs,” DOT Commissioner Boardman said. “This waiver will enable people to operate recreational vehicles up to 45 feet in length after meeting safety requirements, ensuring that greater numbers of travelers can experience the enjoyment of vacationing in the Empire State.”
“Recreational vehicle operators make up a significant portion of the millions of tourists who use the Thruway to reach their summer vacation destinations,” Thruway'[s Fleischer said. “This waiver will allow operators of RVs up to 45 feet long to reach those destinations safely and enjoy the best of what New York state has to offer this summer.”
The waiver is generally consistent with a bill recently passed by the state Legislature to permanently allow RVs up to 45 feet in length on state highways. The bill, which has not yet been delivered to the governor, would take effect 90 days after his approval, potentially limiting its effectiveness during the entire summer tourist season. The waiver was deemed necessary to ensure that owners of such vehicles can begin visiting New York state immediately.