Commission hears concerns from community regarding semi-truck traffic

Published 10:09 pm Thursday, January 12, 2023

By Haley Mitchell-Godwin

The Crenshaw County Commission held an administrative work session Monday beginning at 9 a.m. with a regular session held immediately after.

A wide variety of subject material was discussed during the gathering with Phillip Carr, of Brantley, opening the conversation by addressing the Commision with his concerns about heavy semi truck traffic on Ivy Creek Road/County Road 77.

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Carr requested actions be taken to reduce the number of semi trucks that travel this road, on which he lives. He presented the commissioners with many facts about the issue and offered suggestions that might assist with limiting through traffic for 18 wheelers.

“In just three hours this morning, I had 24 semis fly by my driveway,” Carr said. “Only two were farm trucks hauling feed. These trucks could take an alternative route that would only add on four minutes of driving time and only cost an additional $4.50 worth of fuel. These trucks damage our roads. To resurface the 10.2 miles of Ivy Creek Road, it would cost around $4.5-5 million dollars.Is it really in the best interest of Crenshaw County to spend that money just to save a truck driver a few minutes?”

Commissioner Charlie Sankey thanked Carr for coming before the commission and then proceeded to inform Carr that the county commission nor local law enforcement agencies have jurisdiction with things of this nature.

“I understand the problem completely but unfortunately we can’t control that from this bench,” Sankey said. “We appreciate when citizens pay attention to things like this, and we will help in any way we can to slow down some of that semi traffic. The state’s biggest industry, second only to poultry, is logging and those trucks are on their way to the sawmills, driven by people trying to make a living. What we can do is solicit ALEA to help us get some things going and work on monitoring the speed more closely, but as far as restricting any kind of vehicles from traveling Highway 77, we do not have the authority.”

Crenshaw County Engineer Benjie Sanders took his place at the podium, echoing the sentiments of Commissioner Sankey while expounding upon and encouraging more conversation on the issue.

“Mr. Carr is absolutely right regarding his comments, and so were the Commissioners about this being out of their hands,” Sanders said. “We do appreciate your knowledge and your spot on facts Mr. Carr. One thing we can do is work towards defeating a bill that, if passed, would increase the allowed maximum weight for these big trucks from 80,000 pounds to 100,000 pounds. Fortunately, ALDOT is fighting this.

“They are making Crenshaw, Montgomery, and Elmore Counties the three focus counties where they will do an in-depth analysis on each county’s bridge situations and learn about what this weight limit increase could do to our bridges. According to ALDOT, if this limit is increased, another quarter inch of asphalt will be needed on roads to account for the extra weight. A quarter inch does not sound like much, but it would equal up to around $20,000.00 a mile.”

The discussion regarding this proposed legislation, led the conversation to take a turn toward the topic of logging, specifically the damage they can do to public roads.

District 1 Commissioner Raymond McGough said communication is going to be the key to helping this problem.

“It would be in our best interest and the road department’s best interest, to know when a logging operation was coming in,” McGough said. “This way we could look at the situation and decide if the area can sustain the traffic if wet weather is in the forecast, or if the operation would need to shut down if we get an inch or two of rain.”

A wide variety of possible solutions were discussed. Crenshaw County Commission will continue this discussion with the Crenshaw County Highway Department and begin working towards a solution.

A concerned Luverne citizen, Jeff Stroud, appeared in front of the board to ask that the blueprint for the new park be altered so that the RV parking area would not share a border with his property.

“I have a request I would like you all to consider,” Stroud said. “ I ask that you all move the RV parking area for the new park down to the opposite end of the park property. Where the RV park is now planned to go is right against my property. I am not against the RV park at all, I just don’t like the idea of anyone camping right behind my house.”

Commissioner Sankey told Stroud that he understood his concerns and that the board would take the information into consideration as far as finalizing the plans. Stroud’s commissioner will be in touch with him on this.

County Administrator, David Smyth, notified the commissioners of two board appointments that are expiring, Anita West and Travis Johnson, both on the South Crenshaw Water Authority board.

The Crenshaw County Sheriff’s office had no new business to report. However, the department representative,Daniel Jones, stated that he wanted everyone to be aware of a possible heavy presence of law enforcement and traffic in general, pending the expected passing of Trooper W.A. Neil of Luverne and any related services.

A copy of the Rebuild Alabama Annual report for fiscal year 2022 was made available for those in attendance of the public meeting. The RAA Annual Grant Program is an ALDOT administered transportation infrastructure grant program for projects of local interest created in the Rebuild Alabama Act of 2019 that requires strict compliance and reporting.

Projects on the report were submitted in 2021 and completed in 2022. These projects included the resurfacing and restriping of Lapine Hwy and pavement preservation and restriping of Old Meriweather road,and Oliver Myers Road.

The county’s Rebuild Alabama projects for 2023 were submitted in 2022 and will begin in late spring or summer.

The next meeting of the Crenshaw County Commission will be held Jan. 23 at 6:00 p.m. inside the Crenshaw County Courthouse.