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Large trucks in city becoming big problem

GPS directions do not take drivers to new access road to First Quality

LOCK HAVEN — Although First Quality opened its new large trucks access road off of East Walnut Street more than a month ago, the city of Lock Haven is still experiencing a large number of trucks driving illegally through the city’s residential neighborhoods every day.

“With increased retail demand for the household paper products produced by the First Quality facility, the issue of unauthorized truck traffic has gone from a consistent problem to a crisis,” said Lock Haven City Manager Gregory Wilson.

“First Quality is one of the largest employers in the county, and it is also one of the top 10 employers of city residents. So, we have an incentive to work with First Quality’s leadership to find a solution to illegal truck traffic in our city’s residential neighborhoods,” Wilson said.

First Quality also prides itself on being a good neighbor and good resident, and they always have a willingness to work with the city to find solutions to problems, he noted.

According to Wilson, “there are drivers who disregard the numerous signs placed throughout the city that clearly show that truck traffic is prohibited. The most frequent explanation when those drivers are ticketed is that they are directed by their trucking company to follow the directions provided by their GPS navigator no matter what.”

Chief of Police Kristin Smith and the Director of Public Works Tony Stopper have met with leadership from First Quality to help resolve the issue.

The First Quality plant is located in Castanea Township but the only way to gain entry is through the city’s streets. Although visitors and guests enter the First Quality site off Woods Avenue, trucks used to enter the First Quality facility off East Park Street, but that entrance is now closed.

Trucks are to now enter from East Walnut Street.

According to First Quality’s leadership, the company notified the independent shipping companies of the new truck entrance address — 387 First Quality Drive — and has also handed out flyers to shippers, and contacted four GPS companies about the new address.

Wilson stated that a search Wednesday on Google maps still lists the “First Quality Truck Entrance” as East Park Street, and even if a user types in the new address — 387 First Quality Drive, Lock Haven, Pa. — Google maps will still direct drivers to the East Park Street entrance.

The considerable number of trucks that still attempt to enter at the East Park Street entrance shows that not all independent trucking companies have updated their directions.

Retired City Manager Rich Marcinkevage, who lives near the old entrance, said that in just the past few days he has “escorted almost a dozen trucks to the new access road. I have ridden with two truckers to tell them where to go and walked back, and on Easter Sunday I re-directed three trucks and escorted two more to the new road,” he said.

According to Wilson, if the location of the new delivery address of 387 First Quality Drive was correctly listed in GPS platforms like Google map, it would be more likely that GPS devices would consistently direct drivers onto the approved route which is to take the Lock Haven exit off of Interstate 80 to enter PA Route 220 to Exit 111 and then onto the East Walnut Street exit to turn right to get to the new access road.

If that still doesn’t help cut down on the amount of illegal truck traffic, the only signage option left for the city would be to install a “low overhead clearance” structure at more than 20 locations in the city to physically stop large trucks from entering these neighborhood streets illegally. Similar to poles with overhanging arms with bollards found at local car washes and restaurant drive throughs, this solution would cost more than $16,500 just in materials, according to Wilson.

“It is illegal for large trucks to be on many city streets, all of which are clearly marked with signs prohibiting truck traffic, and they are prohibited because these trucks consistently cause damage to residential and public property,” Wilson said. “Residents who see a heavy truck on a street where it is not permitted who want the issue addressed must call 570-748-2936 to have an officer respond. Taking a video and posting it to Facebook or sending a picture to a member of City Council does not solve the problem.”

“Only consistent enforcement by the police helps to solve the problem.” Wilson continued “While we have up to four officers working at a time, depending on the time of day, that is only at most four sets of eyes to patrol 2.7 square miles and more than 80 lane miles of streets and alleys. Obviously, with more than 9,000 residents, our residents’ eyes outnumber the police department’s, and so we are reliant on residents to alert the police when they see something happening that they know is wrong. When a resident sees an issue, the best practice is to call 570-748-2936 so that an officer can be dispatched to investigate.”

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