An effort to crack down on the number of semis passing through downtown Franklin has officers on pace to nearly double last year’s amount of tickets and warnings issued to drivers who stray from the city’s truck route.
Semis driving on city streets never intended for vehicles their size has led to light poles, trees and traffic signs being knocked down, along with damage to sidewalks, curbs and grass. In response, officers have been issuing more tickets, and the result is fewer trucks on city streets where they are banned, including Jefferson Street, Main Street and King Street, Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett said.
Unless truck drivers have a local delivery to make, they shouldn’t be on any of the downtown streets, he said.
Construction on Jefferson Street has created problems for trucks that do still get downtown, since they have to turn off of Jefferson Street and onto more narrow streets to try to get around, which is another reason why officials want to keep trucks out of downtown if they don’t need to be there.
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In addition to tickets, the city is also working to get GPS companies to adjust their routes and has been handing out flyers of the city’s truck routes to local businesses.
In 2016, the Franklin Police Department issued 69 tickets and 27 warnings to semi drivers who didn’t follow the city’s approved truck route. This year, 60 tickets and 32 warnings have been given out through July. At that rate, the city is on pace to finish the year with more than 100 tickets and 50 warnings.
Truck drivers going from Interstate 65 to U.S. 31 are supposed to bypass downtown Franklin by taking Eastview Drive from King Street, following the road as it turns into Arvin Drive, and then turning onto Commerce Parkway, which connects with U.S. 31. Drivers who have a local delivery to make are allowed to drive downtown along Jefferson Street, but ones that don’t have a valid reason to come downtown face a $250 fine under the city’s rules.
With a portion of Jefferson Street closed for reconstruction, getting around downtown has become even harder for trucks, and has forced them onto even smaller city streets.
“When a truck does slip through and get downtown, they have to start turning down little city streets they have no business being on and have a hard time getting out of there,” Barnett said.
Barnett attributed the increase in tickets to police making the monitoring of semi-trucks a higher priority.
Earlier this year, the police department went through a period of having several officers work overtime to monitor downtown streets, with officers often waiting near Eastview Drive and U.S. 31. Now, the overtime shifts have ended, but any time an officer sees a semi driving where it shouldn’t be, they are pulling it over, Barnett said.
Even with an electronic sign installed, along with other signs notifying drivers of the route, some truck drivers still aren’t getting the message, he said.
The biggest challenge the city faces in reigning in the semi traffic is that the GPS devices truck drivers use are still telling them go to right through Franklin on Jefferson and King Street, Barnett said.
“If we can get the GPS situation resolved, that would solve the problem,” he said.
Getting the GPS companies to update their instructions has been complicated, as the city has to contact each company individually to get the city’s truck route listed, Barnett said.
“We have to go to every single company and let them know, and they tell us they only update so often,” he said.
Franklin Police Chief Tim O’Sullivan has also handed out flyers to local businesses with the truck route details, asking them to relay that information to the trucking companies they work with.
“We did everything in our power so they have no excuse as to what is allowed and what isn’t allowed,” O’Sullivan said.
Franklin police officers have stepped up their enforcement of the city’s truck route, which requires semis to bypass downtown Franklin streets. Here’s a look at how many tickets and warnings have been issued in the past two years.
2017 (through July)