MALONE — Town council decided to move forward with a designation change for two local roads at a meeting Wednesday evening after concerns were raised over the impacts of heavy trucks on the condition of the roadways.
The town board unanimously voted to post Low and River roads eliminating thru truck traffic and leaving the roads open to local deliveries only.
Per town council’s resolution, enforcement of this designation change will start on June 26.
Marc Pepin, a town resident, raised concerns about the impact of heavy truck traffic on town roads, citing planned roadwork on Low Road this summer as a timely reason to adopt the change in designation, and as a way to protect the road after work is completed.
“With that expenditure in mind I think it is the perfect opportunity to stop heavy truck traffic from destroying the road in a few short years,” Pepin said, “I have witnessed the change from a quiet country road to all-out, non-stop trucking of material from Titus Mountain to areas as far away as Potsdam, Massena, Canton and Ogdensburg.”
Mike Andrews, the superintendent of the town’s highway department, said he agrees with Pepin’s concerns over Low Road, adding River Road faces similar issues.
“With that being said, I feel that with the money the taxpayers are paying to improve these roads, I personally feel that with this being done to the Low Road, the same thing is going to happen to the River Road,” Andrews said, “The amount of these heavy trucks, it’s non-stop, they go across River Road to get to Route 11 to head to Burke, Chateaugay or wherever they are going. They come across Low Road, not only do they go up Low Road to Webster Street, they then head to Cosgrove Road and Childs Road so they can get to State Route 30.”
Pepin said he owns two heavy trucks, has used Low Road in the past, and under the change in designation his trucks would be barred from the town road too.
“The weight is unbearable for a town road, these were horse-and-buggy trails at one point in time that have been paved,” Pepin said.
According to Pepin, village and town roads are not built to the same specifications as larger roadways.
“The cost of building a road with the sub-strait material capable of handling this volume of heavy trucks is astronomical,” he said, “The sooner we can get these trucks routed to state highways, the better off all our town roads will be.”
Andrews agreed it is better to keep heavy truck traffic on county roads.
“The county road is constructed for that weight, they’re built for that weight tonnage,” Andrews said, “The thing is where they are coming from and where they are going, there are ways for them to go to remain on roads that are built for them.”
Town Supervisor Andrea M. Stewart said trucks cannot come through the village to Route 11 due to issues on Harison Place, and asked how the change in designation to town roads would be enforced.
“Does that take care of itself by putting the signs up, do they get tickets?” Stewart asked.
Councilman Terrence C. Maguire, a retired state trooper, said the town needs to make sure any new signage is legally posted.
“Once you put the signs up, it is just a call to Ray Brook traffic to tell them what we have done, ask if it is legal to enforce it,” Maguire said, “If it is they will assign troopers, it’s a simple ticket, you don’t have to weigh it or do anything.”
Pepin said limits to truck traffic on Meehan Road, which connects Route 11 and Route 11B, have helped the town road remain in good condition in recent years.
“Meehan Road remains in very good condition today, no doubt in part due to this posting,” Pepin said.
Andrews said he believes Meehan Road was worked on in 1998 or 1999.
“We have only touched that road one time since 1999,” Andrews said, “That’s with all the farm vehicles too, we have only had to top that road one time in 20 years, because of keeping the heavy trucks off.”
Pepin said on rainy days you can see Low Road flex when heavy trucks stop and turn a corner.
“The tag axles, some of those tag axles are fixed now, they don’t steer, if they are elevated they are supposed to steer but those tires are flying sideways,” Pepin said, “With the rain of a day like today you are looking at the road flex.”
Councilman Jody Johnston said the owners of trucking companies should get some notice before the change of designation goes into effect.
Andrews said the town would issue a 30-day public notice.