A recent hit-and-run crash by a semi in downtown Greenwood is another example of why truck traffic should be limited in the area, city officials said.
A Greenwood City Council committee is preparing a proposal to have semis use County Line Road and Smith Valley Road instead of the section of Main Street between U.S. 31 and Emerson Avenue. The plan includes fines for semi drivers who use Main Street to get through the city and signs directing them to more appropriate routes.
Once the committee approves the draft of the new rules, the proposal will be brought back to the city council, which will have to decide if it wants to enact them. The city will also need permission from the state and Marion County to put signs on U.S. 31 and County Line Road and finalize how the rules will be enforced.
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While the proposal would finally put in place rules that allow the city to fine truck drivers on Main Street, another key to enforcing the rule is being able to have signs in the proper locations, Greenwood Police Department Assistant Chief Matt Fillenwarth said.
In order to fine the trucks, the city has to be able to properly inform them of them ban before they enter Main Street, he said.
City officials want to place signs on U.S. 31 informing drivers of the ban, but state permission is needed to do that, city engineer Mark Richards said.
Greenwood would not be the first Johnson County city to setup a designated truck route.
In 2014, Franklin established a city truck route after banning trucks weighing more than 5,000 pounds from using downtown streets. Semi drivers are supposed to take roads around the downtown area unless they have a delivery to make downtown.
To enforce the ban, Franklin officers will wait at the entrance to Jefferson Street, then pull over truck drivers who turn onto the road to ask them what their destination is.
That is a tactic Greenwood Police Department Chief James Ison told the city council it would not likely consider, due to concerns about it violating the driver’s constitutional rights.
One crash earlier this month highlighted why officials want to keep as many trucks as possible off Main Street.
A semi driver attempted to make a U-turn on Main Street struck and damaged the American Business Insurance building in the beginning of October. The section of Main Street in front of the building was closed for a couple of days while repairs were made.
Precautions have been taken to protect buildings along Main Street, Fillenwarth said. For example, the Revery building at the corner of Madison Avenue and Main Street has been struck several times in the past, and steel posts have been installed outside the building as protection, he said.
“When you have a 48-foot trailer, they can’t turn there, and they will still try,” he said.
Safety on Main Street is a concern for both drivers and pedestrians, city council member Linda Gibson said.
“With the façade project, we are trying to bring more foot traffic to the area,” Gibson said.
The trucks also pose a hazard for emergency vehicles going to and from the fire station near the intersection of Washington and Main streets, she said.
Some truck traffic along Main Street is a necessity, with several businesses that require regular deliveries. Other semi drivers use the road as a shortcut to go between Interstate 65 and U.S. 31, something city officials want to clamp down on but can’t under the city’s current rules because the city doesn’t have any laws addressing where trucks aren’t allowed to drive.
Drivers would still be allowed to make deliveries along Main Street, but would be required to take the shortest, most direct route and then leave the area, Gibson said.
Signs would redirect other semi-trucks north to County Line Road or south to Smith Valley Road, she said.
The ban on semis would primarily focus on the section of Main Street from U.S. 31 to Emerson Avenue but include short stretches of other roads, such as Alexander Street and Country Aire Lane, near the Emerson Avenue and Main Street intersection.
While the council had considered setting a weight limit for what trucks can use Main Street, for now, the committee has settled on having the ban simply apply to semi-trucks. The original rule which came before the council in September included a fine of up to $2,500 for wayward semis.