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County concerned about scale-dodging big rigs on Berkeley Road

A former trucker who lives in a neighborhood off North Main Street pleaded with the Board of Commissioners to do something about scale-dodging truck traffic on Berkeley Road, saying the tractor-trailers pose a danger to residents and could cause a serious accident or fatality.

Commissioner Charlie Messer introduced the topic at the regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners on Wednesday.

A widening, curve-straightening and safety improvement project "has been a priority for the Transportation Advisory Committee for probaby 15 years," said Commissioner Bill Lapsley, who serves on the TAC. The solution to the problem, he added, was the Balfour Parkway, which the Board of Commissioners killed.

Plan B, Lapsley added, were the improvements to Signal Hill and Berkeley roads, a TAC priority that is not funded in the latest five-year NCDOT State Transportation Improvement Plan.

"What does that mean? That just means the TAC will submit it in the next round," he said. "Based on past experience it'll be 10 years. It can take 10 years or longer from the time a project is put in by the community until it gets high enough and gets funded for construction. Any major widening or improvement to that road is probably years off."

"You do not get off of a four-lane interstate to travel Berkeley Road unless you're going around the scale," Daniel Andreotta, a resident of Windsor Hills, told the board. He pleaded with commissioners to "drive Berkeley Road as many times as you can. Every curve on Berkeley Road is blind except for one." He said he had received emails from Berkeley Road residents that included complaints about trucks endangering a school bus stop, a truck running over a water meter in a homeowner's yard, shoulders are being destroyed, people unable to see coming out of their driveway, trucks using compression brakes — jake brakes — disturbing neighbors."

Andreotta recommended the county ban trucks that have more than two axles, a measure he said would fix the problem.

Commissioner Rebecca McCall asked what the DOT uses to rank projects. It counts crashes and fatalities, Lapsley said, among other factors.

"So we have to wait for somebody to get killed," McCall said.

"Short term, we've got more influence with the sheriff than we do with the Highway Patrol," Commissioner Bill Lapsley said. "If you take that road you gotta follow the law, you got to follow the speed limit and not run people off the road."

"There's no question this is a serious problem and maybe the issue is just to restrict trucks and we can consider it," Lapsley said.