LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — The “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” convoy slated to take place on the Capital Beltway is still a go, but demonstrators are not planning to purposefully clog the roadway, according to an organizer.
Zeeda Andrews says she is expecting 3,000 big rig operators to participate in the convoy, which is scheduled to reach the Beltway by 7 a.m. Friday and continue in some capacity through Sunday. However, they are only planning to occupy one lane.
Some media outlets reported earlier in the week that truckers planned to either park on the Beltway or take up three full lanes of the road. Andrews says the person who made those claims was not authorized to speak on behalf of the movement.
Truckers are being asked to meet at a travel plaza off exit 98 on Interstate-95 in Doswell, Va., near King’s Dominion, and decorate their rigs with Constitution-related signs and old glory flags.
Sgt. Mark Black, spokesman for the Maryland State Police, says authorities are aware of the planned demonstration and are prepared to help handle it. Virginia State Police say additional troopers will be on patrol this weekend to respond to any incidents that may arise.
There are many names associated with the weekend-long display, including “Ride for the Constitution” and “Truckers to Shutdown America.”
The Truckers Ride For The Constitution Facebook fanpage has more than 123,000 likes. The Trucker’s Ride to DC event page notes that more than 1,300 people plan to attend, though Andrews says she’s expecting more.
Andrews, a RV saleswoman who lives in Jacksonville, Fla., says she and some friends came up with the idea for the event in September.
“Everybody’s talking about what’s going on with our economy and things aren’t getting better,” she says.
The trucker element came in because many trucker friends of hers feel that regulations on the industry are unfair and unconstitutional, she added.
While some false information was circulating about the event earlier this week, the demonstration is meant to be a peaceful protest and a show of solidarity against what Andrews sees as an assault by the federal government on the U.S. Constitution. One such assault is the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare”, she says.
Her goal is to “wake up the sleepwalkers out there,” she added.
Andrews says she understands that the ride will be a financial strain on truckers — with gas priced between $3.95 and $4.10 per gallon and most big rigs only getting about five miles per gallon.
The Beltway is about 64 miles long, and an eight-hour day of traveling around it at the 55 miles-per-hour speed limit would have truckers driving about 440 miles per day, just short of seven full rotations.
That would burn about 88 gallons of gas, meaning an eight-hour day of participating in the convoy would cost each trucker between $347 and $361, according to Andrews’ gas cost estimates. Participating for a whole weekend would cost more than $1,000.
Andrews says many truckers are footing their own bill, but that she’s collected about $16,000 in donations for others.
If 3,000 60-foot-long big rigs actually do show up to participate in the convoy, they would stretch 180,000 feet end-to-end. That’s about 53 percent of the length of the Capital Beltway.