By Stan Welch
Three major roads in the Williamston and Cheddar area are well on their way to being restricted to through traffic by trucks with more than two axles. Breazeale, Cheddar and Hopewell Roads will become restricted to such truck traffic after the third reading approval of the ordinance at the first June meeting of the County Council. Second reading of the ordinance, following a public hearing on the matter was given at the May 17 Council meeting.
County Director of the Roads and Bridges Department Holt Hopkins said that a recent traffic count study indicated that as many as forty seven big trucks, mostly tankers, travel the roads daily; roads which were built as narrow, meandering farm to market roads decades ago. “Those roads simply were not built for that kind of traffic. When they were built, they didn’t even have that kind of traffic.”
District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson agreed, calling the roads ‘paved pig paths’ during the last Council meeting, when first reading approval was unanimously given to the proposed ordinance. “Traffic accident reports show an incredible number of wrecks on those roads. The oil and gas tankers are so big and go so fast on those roads that there’s just no way to safely accommodate them.”
A number of home owners who live along one or the other of the roads appeared at the Council meeting to express their concerns. One spoke of a recent accident which left one vehicle within eighteen inches of a natural gas pipeline. “Imagine the havoc if that line had been ruptured,” said Wilson in a telephone interview with The Journal.
Hopkins said that the restrictions, which Wilson sponsored, are the safest and cheapest solution. “Maybe one day, when we have tons of money for our roads, we can upgrade and improve these roads, but right now, that day is a long way off.”
Upon receiving final reading approval in June, the restrictions will be immediately in force, but Hopkins expects a week long delay in placing all the appropriate signage to inform truckers. He stressed that the restrictions apply only to through traffic. “Local delivery trucks , school buses, and emergency vehicles are not impacted at all.”