Officials in Springfield are working to get truck traffic off Laurel Street.
Mayor Barton Alderman, Public Works Director Lowell Morgan and Councilman Charles Hinely met with representatives from the state Department of Transportation last week.
Alderman said they went to the intersection of Laurel Street and Highway 119 for a look and also went to the railroad trestle.
“We were lucky enough to see three or four log trucks came by to make the turn while we were standing there, so they saw what we had been talking about,” he said.
“The first thing that they want to look at is upgrading the intersection down here to make it easier for the log trucks to make the turn,” Alderman said. “I think that’s good, but if you do that then it’s going to take some of the immediacy out of it. We came up with a lot of ideas for them to take back to Atlanta with them.”
Representatives from the city also had the opportunity to meet with DOT Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl last week and talked with him about getting the truck traffic off of Laurel Street.
“One of Jon Burns’ brothers helped us make a point — he dumped a couple of logs out right in front of the courthouse,” Alderman said. “It helped us make the point about log trucks coming down main street.”
Alderman said working on the railroad trestle could help the problem as well. If the current beams could be replaced with beams that are not as wide, and if there was some work done to the road, he said it could help.
He said a DOT engineer advised it would not resolve the problem because the width of the underpass would be too narrow.
“Improving the intersection in town is worth doing, but it defeats our purpose,” Hinely said. “I don’t think we should push that. If they upgrade that intersection they’re going to forget about the trucks.”
“I consider that the lesser of two evils,” Alderman said. “The other alternative they came up with is to make this the truck route instead of turning on 119 to have them go all the way down Main Street.
“As it is now when they make that turn at least we’ve got them off half of Laurel Street. What they suggested doing was to simply put the truck route back on Laurel Street. We’d be back to where we were 10 years ago.”
Alderman said he told the representative that he did not think that would be possible.
Hinely said eventually Highways 21 and 119 will be looked at out of necessity, but the current priority is Highway 21 and Interstate 95.
“It made me feel kind of bad about it because they spent a lot of time in the meeting talking about how to get truck traffic off of Highway 21 down below Rincon by 95, and I felt kind of bad because we were pushing to get truck traffic onto 21,” Alderman said.
Hinely said he thinks the city has done everything it can to get the truck traffic off of Laurel Street.
“It’s really not in the city’s hands anymore,” he said. “The only way we could do it would be to come up with a truck route and fund it ourselves.”
“If we fund it, we could get it done in a hurry,” Alderman said.
Hinely thought the best part of the meeting was just informing the other governmental agencies of the problem.
“At least the state and the county are aware of the situation,” he said.