Out-of-town tractor-trailers and other large trucks are plaguing Osage Street businesses, causing damage to parking lots while making U-turns, according to one business owner.
Since the opening of the eastbound Interstate 44 exit and entrance ramps in November 2010, truckers routinely are going in the wrong direction on Osage. They must either continue east to the Six Flags entrance to I-44 or make a U-turn on Osage to get back to the entrance ramp at Lamar Parkway.
Alderman Mike Pigg, who owns and operates Pigg’s Pets, 1710 West Osage, wants help from the city to prevent large trucks from using his business parking lot for U-turns or offer some penalty if they continue the practice.
Speaking at the Dec. 3 board of aldermen meeting, Pigg asked whether some signs could be developed by the city that would notify truckers not to enter private parking lots and enable police to ticket them if they do.
Pigg said his business, Tom Wolf Hardware, 410 East Osage, and Subway at First and Osage, have put up homemade signs saying no trucks.
Not only do the homemade signs look tacky, Pigg said, they are not working.
“The mayor and I were standing in front of my business recently and within 15 minutes two different semis pulled in,” Pigg said. “One wanted to park there while he went across the street to the Chinese restaurant and the other one made a U turn.”
The 15 minutes that the mayor was there is just a drop in the bucket, Pigg said.
“The traffic never stops,” he said. “It goes on all day.”
Pigg said in addition to breaking up the asphalt in his business parking lot the heavy trucks are damaging the city-owned curb and sidewalk.
“The sidewalks are fairly new,” Pigg said. “We just put them in.”
City Attorney Dan Vogel said writing a law that would make it illegal for trucks to pull into the parking lots is more complicated than it appears.
The city cannot make a law for one business but if it could be determined that the driver’s intention when entering a private parking lot is to make a U-turn and not visit the business the city could claim a nuisance.
Mayor Herb Adams pointed out that police would have to witness the incident, or the business owner would have to go to the police department and file a complaint with the correct identification of the truck.
Police Chief Matt Mansell said the city already has a law on the books prohibiting motorists from cutting corners onto private property to turn around.
Vogel said he would review the language of the cutting corners law and attempt to draft an ordinance that would give businesses some relief from trucks making U-turns on their lots.
It is believed that the reason trucks are backtracking to the I-44 entrance is because drivers are using GPS-connected devices with inaccurate maps.
There is no reliable count of the number of trucks that are damaging property by making illegal U-turns, or the number of trucking companies making deliveries or stops for fuel and services in Pacific but business owners and motorists say the number is high.
As one example of U-turns, truckers, believed to be following inaccurate GPS directions leave the Pilot Truck Stop on North Thornton Road, proceed south on Viaduct Street and turn east toward the (now closed) former Payne Street entrance to I-44 eastbound.
“The illegal U-turns are costly to businesses and the city,” Pigg said.
Getting the GPS maps corrected is not an easy task. In the state of New York trucks with drivers using GPS for directions hit bridges that were too low for the truck 900 times in 2013, prompting Sen. Chuck Schumer to call for national legislation regulating GPS maps.
One Texas town created an ordinance that requires trucks to post an indemnity bond no less than $50,000 to cover possible damage to its streets, bridges, culverts or drainage easements before driving on any city street.
In Mendota, Ill., after identifying damage by semis driving over streets not built to handle heavy trucks, the city added more signs directing trucks away from side streets, and stenciled the road with load limits.
Mayor Herb Adams said he takes the issue seriously. Truck traffic is an economic benefit to Pacific. The truck stop is one of the top sales tax providers for the city. The city and private businesses also have to face the cost of repairing damaged roads, sidewalks and parking lots.
“The truck drivers are just trying to get to where they need to go,” Adams said. “It’s our job to try to find a way to help get them there.”