Posted by: project151 | October 9, 2007

Media Watch: Most Nelson BOS skeptical of through truck ban on Rt. 151

Alicia Petska of The News Virginia filed this report:

Nelson county debates truck ban
By Alicia Petska
The News Virginian
Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Most Nelson supervisors are skeptical of calls for truck restrictions on Virginia 151, the scene of several recent fatal crashes.

“Prove to me trucks are a problem, and I’ll support it,” said North District representative Tommy Harvey. “But the evidence is just not there. … I don’t know how any rational person can say trucks are the problem.”

Supervisors are expected to clarify the county’s position at a meeting this afternoon.

Community support for a crackdown on trucks has been gathering steam in the aftermath of a string of crashes that killed five people in 34 days starting Aug. 30.

None of those crashs involved what are called “through trucks,” referring to the hundreds of tractor-trailers that cut through VA-151 every day on their way to other destinations. Some people want those vehicles banned from 151.

“Everybody seems to be putting the blame on trucks and they have nothing to do with it,” West District Supervisor Tommy Bruguiere said. “To out and out ban them when they haven’t done anything to anybody doesn’t seem right.”

Bruguiere said he wouldn’t consider a ban unless it also involved the state improving the U.S. 29-Interstate 64 interchange near Charlottesville, where most of the trucks would likely head if VA-151 became off-limits.

Steady traffic and an absence of stoplights make that a dicey intersection with tractor-trailers bunching up while waiting to turn.

If the county opts to apply for a through-truck ban, officials would be required to submit a formal petition to Commonwealth Transportation Board, which is scheduled to visit the region late this month.

Virginia Department of Transportation engineers say the chances of the state approving such a plan are slim.

Local ban proponents – who’ve formed an advocacy group dubbed Project 151 – have argued that through trucks clog the rural, two-lane road, which they say was not built to accommodate the current traffic volume.

In addition to the ban, Project 151 members have called for more police patrols on the road, which cuts through population centers such as Nellysford.

The issue is to be discussed at a community meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Rockfish Valley Community Center.

Among Nelson supervisors, only Connie Brennan, the Central District representative and a Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates, has publicly backed a ban. Her opponent in the House race, incumbent Watkins Abbitt, I-Appomattox, maintains truck restrictions aren’t the answer.

South District Supervisor Harry Harris, who’s retiring from office this year, said he has “mixed emotions.”

“Something must be done,” he said. “But I’m not sure that removing trucks at this point is the solution. … And I don’t think making emotional decisions on banning trucks without first looking at all the options is the solution.”


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