By next month, several Cole County roads will have posted road weight limits in an effort to divert heavier traffic from roads not designed for it.
The Cole County Commission on Tuesday approved the changes in part because of an increase in tractor-trailer traffic that was using Tanner Bridge Road as a bypass route around Wardsville and going south toward Route B in recent years.
"This particular stretch of roadway is an old pavement that is very narrow," Public Works Director Eric Landwehr said. "Tractor-trailer traffic unfamiliar with the road is causing safety hazards for residents in the area as well as causing premature pavement failure issues."
Roads in the Osage City area are also incorrectly being used by tractor-trailers to access the Jefferson City Correctional Center, he said.
"Tractor-trailers cannot navigate the curves and often run off the road and get stuck trying to back up," Landwehr noted. "This results in damage to the road and right-of-way, causing increased maintenance work for the county."
To address the issues, public works staff drafted amendments to the Cole County traffic code to prohibit the operation of certain commercial vehicles on these roadways. Landwehr said the amendments will specifically target vehicles using the roadways as a pass through.
"There will be exceptions to the regulation allowing trucks to serve residents and businesses along the roadways for items such as deliveries, construction work and trash pickup," Landwehr said. "Exceptions will also be made for emergency vehicles as well as road maintenance vehicles and equipment."
Under the new amendments, commercial vehicles are defined as all tractor-trailers and any single unit vehicle in excess of 20,000 pounds. These type of vehicles will be prohibited from using the following roads:
- Tanner Bridge Road from Route B to Tanner Bridge Spur
- Tanner Bridge Spur from Tanner Bridge Road to Route B
- Osage Front Street from Osage Hickory Street to Osage Elm Street
- All of Osage Elm Street
Violation of the commercial weight limit can lead to fines up $500 and imprisonment in the county jail for a period up to three months, or both.
Several people in these areas had signed petitions asking the commission to make the changes.
"Not long ago I was driving home and following a truck that I knew was going to eventually have problems negotiating through the area," said Jim Gallaher, who lives on Tanner Bridge Road. "He got out of the truck and came back to my vehicle and asked, 'Where the hell am I — where am I going?' Truckers don't want to be on that road any more than we want them on the road. This will save the county money and make it safer on Tanner Bridge Road."
Shannon Block lives on Tanner Bridge and went around to neighbors to get signatures on petitions asking for the commission's help.
"I had one lady tell me they had built their dream home on Tanner Bridge and loved to sit on the porch to look at the countryside," Block said. "She almost had tears come to her eyes as she talked about how they were contemplating selling and moving from there because of the amount of trucks that went by. That really hit me."
Landwehr said there would have to be signs posted by MoDOT and the county to show where trucks weren't allowed and that would probably take a month to get done.