11/22/07 — Wayne Commissioners request opening more highways to tractor-trailers

View Archive

Wayne Commissioners request opening more highways to tractor-trailers

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 22, 2007 8:12 AM

Working to open Wayne County up to tractor-trailer traffic, the county Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday morning to ask the state Department of Transportation to classify several main arteries as National Truck Network highways.

Currently, the only roads in Wayne County where trucks longer than 48 feet can legally drive, are U.S. 70 and I-795.

"If they're anywhere else, they're illegal," County Mana-ger Lee Smith said. "That's a major problem (for businesses in the southern end)."

The reason that's a problem, the commission's letter to DOT explained, is that the rules were made in the 1970s and now, the industry standard for tractor-trailers is 53 feet.

But, when those trucks try to run on roads not rated for them, a condition known as off-tracking -- when the rear wheels of a trailer don't follow in the tracks of the front wheels when turning -- develops.

The commission's request to reclassify roadways includes U.S. 117 south from U.S. 70 to the Duplin County line, the I-40 connector through Duplin County, and U.S. 13 and N.C. 55 from county line to county line.

"That would cover most of Wayne County," county Planning Director Connie Price said. "There'd be very few spots in the county you wouldn't be within three miles of one of those roads."

Trucks are permitted to travel up to three miles off of the recognized corridors in order to access businesses, fuel and food.

The request was prompted by the state Highway Patrol's crackdown on trucks on U.S. 117 between U.S. 70 and I-95 before it received its interstate designation in October.

In order to change those roads' designations, though, it will take more than Wayne County's request.

Every municipality along those routes must also agree -- a process, said DOT state traffic engineer Kevin Lacey, that can take years and one that often fails.

The only other option for trucks to gain access, is for entities, whether they be the county commission or a private business, to request a reasonable access permit -- a much easier process, Lacey said, but one that would grant access only to those trucks traveling to and from specific points along those highways.