• 73°

Truck routes spark debate

AHOSKIE – What started as an update on the Ahoskie streets designated as truck routes turned into a lively debate here Tuesday during the monthly meeting of the Ahoskie Town Council.

Bryan Lewis, Ahoskie’s Director of Public Works, and Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh addressed the Council in regards to a growing problem – heavy trucks inflicting serious damage on town streets.

Lewis informed Council members that the town streets were not built for heavy use by vehicles that exceed 10,000 pounds in gross weight.

&uot;This is why we are seeing so much damage to our streets,&uot; Lewis said.

He went on to say that Council members needed to update and file, with the Town Clerk’s office, a list of designated streets within town that can be used as truck routes. Those streets include all NC and US routes – Highway 13 (Academy St. and Memorial Drive), Highway 561 (First Street), Main St. and Catherine Creek Road. Also included are all or portions of Hayes, Rogers, Railroad and Rhue streets.

According to Town Ordinance 15-39, truck traffic is allowed on other streets as long as that purpose is solely for the delivery or pick-up of goods at business or residential locations. That same ordinance prohibits vehicles with a gross weight exceeding 10,000 pounds from parking overnight in a residential district or parking for more than two hours at any one time on any non-designated street.

Lewis said he had received several reports of trucks (18-wheelers) parking overnight in residential areas, some parked up over the curb. Another report dealt with a truck owner changing the oil in his rig on a residential street. One citizen reported a trucker starting his rig at 4 a.m. to start his day, thus disturbing his neighbors.

&uot;We’ve got to stop this problem before it becomes worse,&uot; Lewis said. &uot;These trucks are not supposed to be parked in a residential neighborhood or use a residential street for any purpose other than making a delivery or picking up an item.&uot;

Lewis went on to say it was to his understanding that some truckers do not own cars, thus bringing up the possibility that they were perhaps using their rigs for personal use.

&uot;Again, that simply increases the amount of truck traffic on our streets and our streets are showing wear and tear as a result,&uot; he stated.

Chief Fitzhugh said his officers could enforce the residential no-parking ordinance for truckers. However, since that fine is currently so low ($25), it does not act as a deterrent.

&uot;I think we need to put more teeth into this ordinance,&uot; stated Fitzhugh. &uot;If we hit them harder in the pocket, then that may help solve the problem.&uot;

Councilman Larry Vann pointed out there were many Ahoskie residents who were employed as truck drivers.

&uot;Where are they going to park,&uot; asked Vann. &uot;We don’t want to put these individuals out of business. We need to see if we can help them find alternative places to park.&uot;

Council members decided to table the issue until next month’s meeting.

In other action taken by Council members on Tuesday:

Heard a presentation from Susan Askew of the Hertford County Public Health Authority concerning walking trails.

Adopted resolutions for Samuel J. Farmer (donation of land to the town for use within its parks and recreation department) and for the Ahoskie Rotary Club in honor of Rotary’s Centennial Celebration. Mayor Linda Blackburn presented both resolutions.

Approved a measure that will continue to advertise, by upset bid, the sale of the town’s Davis Street property (the old town landfill). The current offer stands at $7,500.

Appointed Rev. Richard Rice and Betty Duke to the Ahoskie Beautification Committee.

Approved a $1,000 donation to the Hertford County High School Band Boosters to help with their fundraising drive to purchase new uniforms.

Heard an update from Charles Hughes in regards to the ongoing process to secure funding for the historic Ahoskie High School property.

Heard department updates from Recreation Director Dennis Everett, Fire Chief Ken Dilday and Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh.