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Big rigs keep on turning onto Berkeley road; county weighing options

Although tractor-trailers still might be dodging the scales on I-26 by taking Signal Hill and Berkeley roads through Hendersonville, the situation is “getting a little bit better” with monitoring by sheriff’s deputies, Commissioner Charles Messer said Wednesday at the Board of Commissioners meeting.

 

The solution to the scale-dodging problem is not an easy one, the board agreed, as it literally might drive the big rigs through downtown or block trucks from reaching the Kimberly-Clark plant.

So the board has asked County Manager Steve Wyatt to contact the city and the manufacturing facility, gathering more details so the board can make an informed decision about how to proceed.

“There is a problem out there,” Messer said. “Public safety is the number one issue of the Henderson County Commission. It has gotten better with the sheriff’s office patrols on both ends (of that stretch). Are there some other things that we can do to limit (the truck traffic) to make that a safer corridor?”

Commissioner William Lapsley, who sits on the Transportation Advisory Council, said he brought up the issue at a recent Transportation Advisory Committee meeting and asked that group to consider whether “they would like to recommend to us restricting truck access on that road. I have a (TAC) meeting this afternoon and I will bring it up again.”

Lapsley said he contacted NCDOT about the traffic safety challenges posed by heavy trucks on the two two narrow winding roads. NCDOT officials told him that the agency does restrict tractor-trailer traffic on some secondary roads but usually because of road design – when trucks have a hard time negotiating the curves.

“We can submit (the roads) to a state traffic engineer for evaluation,” he said. “We can take the lead on it and contact DOT and request an evaluation of the road.

“The implication to me is that if we were to restrict truck traffic on that road, where would these trucks go? Further down Four Seasons (Boulevard) to get to the interstate? It affects the city of Hendersonville and we need to notify them and get their reaction,” Lapsley said.

Commissioner Rebecca McCall asked that county staff check with Kimberly-Clark plant as well to see if it would affect their deliveries.

Regarding another roadway issue, 10 homeowners spoke against the NCDOT’s proposed widening of N.C. 191 from Schoolhouse Road to Rugby Road and from Bradley Road to Mountain Road. Residents said they would favor a three-lane road in that area but not a four-lane divided highway because of the loss of property and increased noise during construction and from traffic. They also cited issues of erosion and negative impact on the natural beauty of the area and property values.

Robert Coffey, representing the Ridgeview subdivision, said that the homeowners’ association had met and decided to fight the widening by starting a petition to call for reassessing and revising the road plan and to address the commission at Wednesday’s meeting. Coffey also expressed concerns over the cost of construction.

“We have read quotes for NCDOT projects that have exceeded the original cost estimates by over 50 percent. Reducing the scope of this project to three lanes should be much less costly, so it should be a win-win compromise.”

Messer urged Lapsley to present those concerns to the TAC as well. 

“I will carry the messages I heard today and discuss them with DOT and see if that has any impact on how this board feels about this project,” Lapsley said.