Rutland Herald (VT)
July 2, 2013
Section: NEWS

Town hopes to alleviate truck traffic

   Lucia Suarez

WEST RUTLAND — Efforts to curb an ongoing problem with trucks traveling on Whipple Hollow Road may be gaining some traction. Recent conversations among town officials, law enforcement, trucking companies and local businesses have focused on keeping large trucks from crossing through — and sometimes getting lost — in residential areas between Route 4 and Florence. They will be focusing on enforcement of weight limits on roads and bridges in hopes it will deter drivers.

“All the truckers are using the shortest or fastest route to OMYA and it’s through Whipple Hollow Road,” said Mary Ann Goulette, town manager in West Rutland. “The state added a lot of signage to go through Center Rutland then to Route 3 up to Florence, but still a lot go through town.”

She added that the majority of the drivers rarely have gone up to the Florence OMYA plant and follow global positioning systems, or GPS, that do not take them through the right place.

“It’s windy. It’s residential,” Goulette said. “Right now it’s about enforcement.”

She said these were sentiments shared by OMYA and the trucking companies, who are working with the towns to find solutions.

“I can’t stop saying good things about OMYA,” the town manager said. “OMYA is willing to help fix the problems.”

She said since January, at least 40 trucks have been seen going on Whipple Hollow Road and they are reaching the levels residents in the area felt last year.

Whipple Hollow Road is a Class 2 paved road that was paved several years ago. Town officials are worried the excess truck weight may do harm to an old wooden bridge on the road in the long run.

Lt. Kevin Andrews with the DMV’s commercial vehicle enforcement department said enforcement is hard on local roads because his department focuses mainly on the highways. He said there is not enough manpower to send workers for enough time to make it effective.

He also said the drivers are always changing, so even if they were at a certain location for two or three weeks, they probably would not see repeat drivers.

“The difficult part is that truck drivers use GPS similar to ours,” Andrews said. “It does not pick up truck routes. It would give them the same route that you or I.”

He added that it also does not help that because they drivers are so dependent on the technology, they do not pay attention to the signs.

“There are a lot of signs (before Whipple Hollow Road) directing OMYA traffic,” Andrews said.

The town, OMYA, the DMV and the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department have teamed up to come up with ways to focus on enforcing weight limits.

Andrews said he recommended that Sheriff’s deputies — with whom the town contracts for police coverage — take courses on how to monitor weight on vehicles. A portable scale could be loaned to the department for the purpose of enforcement.

“If hefty tickets get out in the trucking community (they may stop),” Goulette said, adding tickets can go as high as $1,500 for overweight trucks. “Enforcement is our next step.”

She said conversations are ongoing and that they are considering the recommendation Andrews made.

“I think we are making more progress now and we are hoping to make more progress down the line,” Andrews said.