PILOT MOUNTAIN — A request to stop semis on a downtown street was put off, at least for now, by the Pilot Mountain Board of Commissioners.
Mayor Evan Cockerham has received complaints about heavy trucks using Bullington Lane as a cut-through between U.S. 52 Bypass and East Main Street, causing damage to the street.
“Mr. (John) Bullington asked if the board would consider making Bullington Lane ‘no through trucks,’” said Town Manager Michael Boaz. “Essentially what that means is that transfer trucks would not be allowed to use it. … And when I say transfer trucks, I mean 18-wheeler, semi trucks.”
“You have to be careful when you start disallowing certain types of traffic on publicly maintained streets,” Boaz warned.
However, in a memo that Boaz presented to the commissioners before the meeting, he said. “After evaluating this street, it is not wide enough to accommodate semi-truck traffic. The staff has prepared the attached ordinance that would add Bullington Lane to list of streets where through trucks are prohibited. This would not prohibit delivery trucks from delivering packages to homes on this road.”
Because the Pilot Mountain board met via online video instead of at Town Hall, the mayor read a statement submitted from John Bullington.
“These trucks come through here 24/7. At times cars have to run into our yard or our neighbor’s because the road is not wide enough. I am concerned with the pipe crossed underneath the road with the weight. … This road, with it being just paved, is being tore up on the sides. People do not care. It feels like a drag strip with tractor-trailers running and cars can’t get stopped in time because they take up the whole road.”
Bullington Lane is a short stretch of road, a little longer than a football field. It runs from the highway bypass near the Breeze Thru BP station to Main Street, just past The Pilot Center and about 400 feet from the end of Main Street at U.S. 52 Bypass.
Hamlin Drive dead-ends at Quality Commercial Structures, a metal carport business.
“When we worked on this road over the past couple of years, across from Bullington on Hamlin, we shifted the road for trucks to be able to go through Bullington,” recalled Commissioner Kimberly Quinn.
At one time, Bullington Lane reached Main Street slightly west of the intersection with Hamlin. Roadwork allowed the two streets to line up.
“Then we moved the power lines for Duke Power,” said Quinn. “So we did a lot of shifting so that those trucks could go more straight instead of at an angle.”
If tractor-trailers were forced to drive down Main Street instead of using Bullington, Quinn asked, “can they turn safely into Hamlin?”
“I think they could easily make that turn now that the DOT (N.C. Department of Transportation) has widened that intersection some,” said the town manager. “I think they can make that turn into Hamlin. But, making a turn out? … I don’t know if they could make that turn without crossing the center line.”
“I guess my concern is that there are trucks coming in and out of Hamlin Street,” said Quinn. “You try to restrict access from Bullington, then you are potentially causing more issues on Main Street to force them to make that turn.”
The town council was meeting via computer link from their homes because of social distancing concerns.
While he had said he thought trucks could make the turn onto Hamlin, Boaz said he received a text message from Police Chief Robby Jackson that in his opinion it would be difficult for trucks to make the turn from East Main Street onto Hamlin, if they couldn’t go straight across from Bullington.
“That was the purpose of lining those streets up to begin with,” Boaz said.
“It made it safer than trying to swerve into oncoming traffic to make that turn,” said Quinn.
“And, we’ve done some things on some other roads, like Marion I think, where you can’t park on one side — but people still do,” she added. “So I feel like if we did it, is it something that’s even going to be enforceable? What would be the ramifications if a truck went through there?”
If the Pilot Mountain Police Department sees someone breaking a town ordinance such as that, then the person who do so would be subject to a fine, said the town manager.
“I think what we actually looked at earlier wasn’t ‘no through trucks,’ Boaz noted. “It was making Bullington one way. I think the board decided that that would become problematic.”
Some photos submitted with the complaint about the traffic on Bullington included a shot of black skid marks on the asphalt where someone had to slam on the brakes, Boaz noted.
“On the edges of the road where you’d pull out on Main Street, there are parts where vehicles — I’m assuming the trucks, it could be other vehicles too — are leaving the road and tearing up the shoulder,” said the mayor. “So it seems like it needs to be just that much wider all the time to accommodate that. And maybe that’s the solution to add a couple of feet to both sides.”
Commissioner Hilda Willis spoke up.
”I went by there. I would recommend someone from utilities go by. … The part that was most concerning to me was there’s an area that goes up under the road itself. I think that is part of the town utility. When I looked up under there, I could see what looked like it was holding the road up is starting to collapse a little. … It’s hollow under there where the water runs.
“Can that collapse and what would happen if it did?”
“Is there a culvert that runs under there?” the mayor asked the town manager.
“I think there is a culvert that runs under Hamlin,” answered Boaz. “I can have public works check that out.
“It sounds to me like the problem isn’t really the trucks turning from Bullington onto Main Street or going across to Hamlin,” said Cockerham. “it’s more of them coming out of Hamlin and going on to Bullington Lane, where they might be catching the shoulder there.
“We’ll look more into that, and I think we should come up with a more clear recommendation.”
The commissioners agreed with that idea and chose not to act on the ordinance prepared by the town staff.
Having people spending more time at home continues to pay dividends for one business: the ABC Store.
Last month Boaz read out a report from Billy Pell, of the Pilot Mountain ABC Board.
Pell reported that in February 2020 the store did business of $115,178. This is almost $25,000 (and 26.8%) higher than the year before when February 2019 was $90,829.
This week, Boaz said March sales were $152,961, and increase of 41.5% over March 2019 when sales were $107,326.
“That’s incredible,” said the mayor.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.
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