SNOW HILL – The possibility of setting up a new truck route in Worcester County generated a lot of discussion this week between the County Commissioners, the Sheriff’s Office and the Public Works Department.
Concerns were brought before the commissioners about an increasing amount of heavy truck traffic causing potential damage to several roads in the county as well as a bridge.
Cypress, New Bridge, and Tulls Corner roads were among those named in the Pocomoke area that are receiving dangerous levels of heavy trucks crossing daily. Commissioner-Elect Merrill Lockfaw Jr., a resident of Cypress Rd. and a former county roads employee, sent a letter to the assembly voicing his concerns.
In his letter, Lockfaw pointed out that trucks hauling matter from Vulcan Materials follow the Cypress-New Bridge-Tulls Corner path, a course he claims was not designed to handle heavy trucks.
“These roads have blind curves and are not designed for loads being carried by today’s tri-axle trucks, especially at the speeds these trucks are traveling…I am aware of the designated truck route…Unionville Rd to McMichael Ave to Broad St…The problem is the independent haulers who do not want to obey the signs…I do not understand why this is such a problem when it has been the designated route since the 1980’s,” wrote Lockfaw.
Lockfaw added that if the issues with the truck route are ignored the county might wind up paying huge repair costs in the future.
Worcester County Sheriff’s Deputy Sergeant Ed Schreier told the commissioners that it was difficult to enforce the truck route that Lockfaw was referring to and that new signage would be necessary.
“The State Police told us that we need to weigh the trucks if we want to enforce the truck route law. We need scales to weigh those trucks but we don’t have portable ones,” he said.
Schreier suggested that signs be posted along the route prohibiting vehicles over 10,000 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). He claimed that setting such a low GVW limit along the troubled roads would give officers probable cause when pulling over any large truck and would allow them to enforce weight restrictions as opposed to truck route violations.
Some commissioners hesitated to post a GVW that low.
“A school bus weighs more than 10,000 pounds,” said Commissioner Virgil Shockley.
“My F-350 weighs more than 10,000 pounds,” said Commission President Bud Church.
Schreier informed the assembly that the limitations would be against large commercial vehicles, not farm/non-commercial ones.
The possibility of raising the posted limit to 26,000 GVW was discussed. However, Schreier told the commissioners that it would be much more difficult to enforce the 26,000 GVW limit than the 10,000, making it tougher for traffic officers to spot the vehicles violating the weight.
Commissioner Bobby Cowger, however, commented that trained officers should be able to spot if a vehicle exceeds 10,000 or 26,000 GVW. Shockley agreed.
Commissioner Judy Bogg’s main concern was the penalty.
“I hope the fine is enough to get their [trucker’s] attention,” she said, stating that if it wasn’t they’d likely ignore the truck route and use the Cypress-New Bridge-Tulls Corner course and risk the fine.
County attorney Sonny Bloxom was asked to prepare a resolution on the matter that could be presented to the commission at a later date.
“The resolution will probably say 26,000 [GVW],” said Bloxom, “but the commissioners will still have to vote on that.”