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In the fast lane: Concerns remain over Dickinson truck routes

Press Photo by Nadya Faulx Custom-made speed signs lined Eighth Street Southeast, a street that homeowner Jerry Vance has “become pretty much a racetrack.”

Dickinson city officials may have established routes to take the bulk of truck traffic out of Dickinson, but not all residents are satisfied with the outcome.

At a city commission meeting Monday, officials approved a resolution introduced last month which set designated truck routes connecting traffic to the interim bypass.

Taking advantage of the opportunity for public comment on the resolution, longtime resident Jerry Vance told commissioners he is concerned that Eighth Street Southeast, where he lives, is among the roads included in the truck route.

“The speeds of the vehicles that are driving down, the conditions of the roads, and some of the noises in the area right now,” he said, “it has become pretty much a racetrack.”

Vance said he and some of his neighbors have seen speeds along the 25-mph residential street reach upwards of 72 mph, which he clocks with a radar gun. Many of the trucks are hazmat regulated and, if involved in an accident, would require a half-mile evacuation area.

Increased traffic has also damaged the street itself, he told commissioners.

“The road conditions are so bad there, our houses shake then they come by there speeding,” he said at the meeting. “I would just like you to be aware if there’s something you could do to help us as residents.”

The route continues along Eighth Street Southwest and up State Avenue toward Interstate 94, but Vance’s neighborhood is one of the more residential areas along the truck route. Hand-made speed signs line the street, extra reminders to vehicles passing through.

City engineer Craig Kubas said Vance’s wasn’t the only complaint he has heard about traffic.

“We hear comments like Mr. Vance’s all over town,” Kubas told the commission. “And undoubtedly traffic has increased on Eighth Street Southeast.”

The North Dakota Department of Transportation conducted an average daily traffic count in 2012 on the stretch of Eighth Street between South Main and Third Avenue Southeast. Approximately 4,390 vehicles traveled on the street each day, according to data collected. Vance said the majority — trucks and cars alike — don’t follow speed laws or stop at stop signs.

Kubas said the engineering department and law enforcement have looked into addressing road conditions and speed enforcement, but they’re in early stages.

“We do have a proposed project right now,” he said. “It’s just pencil on paper, but we are looking at prioritizing it.”

Kubas said the city will do what it can with the budget and enforcement resources it has to improve road conditions, but the route will remain unchanged.

“For good or for bad, it is the route that we have on the southeast side of town,” Kubas told the commission.

Only one stretch of road is off-limits to trucks in Dickinson: Highway 22 south of 12th Street to Broadway was established as a no-truck zone a couple of years ago, Kubas told The Press on Tuesday.

Trucks will be permitted to use the roads included in the new route, but it would take future ordinances to designate any further truck-free areas. State Avenue, 10th Avenue East and 21st Avenue East are under consideration.

“We don’t disallow trucks off of the blue route,” Kubas said, but the “permitted, preferred route should be on the assigned truck route.”

Signage along the route should be up this fall, he said.

Faulx is a reporter for The Dickinson Press. Contact her at 701-456-2107. Tweet her at NadyaFaulx