Keeping borough trucks on track a tough task

On Tuesday, March 22, a trucker provided a dramatic reminder of why the Borough of Kennett Square has a truck route and why complaints about truck traffic surface periodically at Borough Council meetings: Big rigs can’t navigate some downtown intersections.

A series of signs and a pedestrian crossing pole were among the casualties of a truck that didn't make the corner.

A series of signs and a pedestrian crossing pole were among the casualties of a truck that didn't make the northwest corner of State and Union on Tuesday, March 22.

A Sunbury Trucking driver headed into the borough on Route 82 from Route 1 clipped the northwest corner at State Street during a right-hand turn, taking out a crossing signal post, several signs and a planter before continuing on his way.

Fortunately for the borough, the collision – not an uncommon occurrence, officials say – had a positive outcome thanks to the public, said Kennett Square Police Cpl. Bill Holdsworth.

“If it hadn’t been for an independent witness, we wouldn’t have been able to track down the company,” Holdsworth said, explaining that a driver managed to get the license-plate number.

Holdsworth said once the company was contacted, it was apologetic and cooperative, immediately providing insurance information. However, the incident will continue to cause headaches for borough workers until the damage is repaired.

Public Works Director Randy Behmke said the accident marked the third time since he began working for the borough in October that a truck has caused damage while making a turn – and the second time a witness has enabled authorities to hold the trucker accountable.

Behmke said another wide turn at the same intersection as last week’s hit the borough in the wallet after a vehicle struck the pedestrian signal pole and kept going. Behmke said the wiring wasn’t affected; the pole just had to be fixed at a cost of about $500.

The recent incident will prove more expensive, Behmke said. He explained that a worker had to be called in on overtime to secure the area since wiring was exposed. In addition to the pole, signs and a planter have to be repaired or replaced. Although he doesn’t have repair estimates yet, he expects the cost to be at least several thousand dollars.

“It’s been a constant battle,” said Behmke.

He and Holdsworth both agreed that the truck drivers probably didn’t know what had occurred. “When you’re in one of those large trucks, you’re probably not going to feel the impact,” said Holdsworth.

But Borough Manager Joseph C. Scalise said officials are pursuing ways to minimize the impact on the borough.

“Currently we are working on an ordinance which would limit truck traffic on State Street,” Scalise said.  “It actually came together much faster than I had anticipated, and we were able to get PennDOT’s concurrence after just an email and an onsite visit.”

Scalise said before the borough can adopt the ordinance, it will have to complete an engineering and traffic study, which has been proposed but not yet authorized. Scalise said he has also met with a local mushroom grower to identify routes that would be safer for their drivers.

Prohibiting a truck driver from turning onto a street doesn’t help him get to his destination, explained Scalise. He suggested that adding some directional signs might also assist trucks in making their deliveries while reducing the risks to the borough.

In the meantime, borough officials hope residents will continue to provide extra sets of eyes. “Being vigilant is so important,” said Holdsworth. “We would have never known who did the damage at that intersection if someone hadn’t been paying attention.”

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