City weighs idea of restricting trucks on Superior Street

TANNER MONDOK | HeraldA car travels on Superior Street in Hermitage. The city may put weight limits on the street after residents complained about tractor-trailers using it.

HERMITAGE — A proposed ordinance is being considered by the Hermitage Board of Commissioners that could limit truck traffic above a certain weight on a suburban road in the Patagonia section of the city.

The proposed ordinance would set a maximum gross weight of 10 tons, or 20,000 pounds, for vehicles and combinations traveling on Superior Street, which reaches from North Water Avenue to North State Line Road, the border with Ohio.

The attention on Superior Street came after Commissioner Louis Squatrito said he was approached back in May by a few residents of the street, who said they were concerned with tractor-trailers using it.

Residents said they were upset with the noise caused by the trucks during early morning runs and that the trucks sometimes cut into a resident’s yard when making a sharp turn, Squatrito said.

“They said some of the trucks were so wide, they were hitting people’s yards,” Squatrito said.

Squatrito forwarded those concerns to City Manager Gary Hinkson, which led to an engineering and traffic study of Superior Street. The study recommended a weight restriction for two reasons: past experience and pavement analysis.

There was degradation of the pavement’s edge for nearly the entire length of the roadway, and a pavement analysis found that existing physical deterioration was due to heavy-vehicle use, both of which indicated vehicles of a certain weight should not use the roadway, according to the study.

Hinkson said there are other streets in Hermitage with weight limits for vehicles, and that the study was a part of the process toward implementing a weight limit, as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

“Under the city code of ordinances, there’s a section that lists all the streets,” Hinkson said. “If the ordinance is approved, it would add Superior Street to that list.”

The ordinance will undergo its initial reading at this week’s commissioner meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Hermitage municipal building. If the board votes to introduce the ordinance Wednesday, a public hearing and final vote would be held at the commissioners’ Aug. 25 meeting, board President Duane Piccirilli said.

“Because of those heavy trucks, it can be a lot of wear and tear on the roads, so it’s something that we’re going to look at,” Piccirilli said.

Though occasional use of the road by heavy vehicles is not necessarily an issue, board Vice President William Moder said the continued use of certain roads by heavy traffic can cause damage.

“The roads are designed for certain kinds of traffic,” Moder said. “We recently paved Carroll Lane; I doubt that was designed the same way Route 18’s designed.”

However, the issue is more complex than simply restricting traffic to vehicles under a certain weight. Exemptions are allowed for certain vehicles including emergency vehicles, school buses and local deliveries, Hinkson said.

Some of the residents’ descriptions seemed to suggest grocery trucks, although the only such store nearby is the StateLine Supermarket just across North State Line Road in Masury, Ohio, which Squatrito said didn’t seem like it would need such large truck deliveries.

As a former employee of Dean Dairy, Squatrito said the average tractor-trailer could weigh as much as 80,000 pounds without the load, and that the company would sometimes send out smaller trucks for local deliveries.

If the ordinance is approved, Hermitage police Chief Eric Jewell said the new weight limit would be posted to Superior Street to alert incoming truck drivers.

Most tractor-trailers and heavy vehicles, such as gravel trucks, are weighed before they set out on a delivery, so truck drivers would already know their vehicles’ weight. If a vehicle were stopped by police, Jewell said the driver would either have to provide documentation of the weight, or the state police would have to bring in a mobile scale.

“I think most truck drivers know what roads and bridges to take when they’re making a local delivery,” Jewell said. “My best advice to truck drivers would be, if in doubt, call the city ahead of time.”

Squatrito said that if the ordinance were adopted and the weight limit posted, truckers would voluntarily obey the limits due since there are other routes available and being stopped for an overweight load could affect the driver’s commerical driver’s license.

“If there’s a commercial truck driver with a CDL license, they’d have to honor the weight limit because it’s a strike against them if they don’t,” Squatrito said.

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