Reliance Road truck ban advances

A gas delivery truck rounds a turn on Reliance Road just past Reliance United Methodist Church on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

A proposed truck ban on Reliance Road moved a step forward in Frederick County this week.

The Transportation Committee agreed Monday to recommend that the Board of Supervisors hold a public hearing on the proposal that originated in Warren County. Once the board receives the committee’s report, members will determine whether or not to follow the recommendation, John Bishop, assistant director for transportation with the Frederick County Department of Planning and Development, said Tuesday. The county would hold the hearing at the next board meeting, Bishop said.

Warren County Supervisor Daniel J. Murray Jr. lives off of Reliance Road and represents the North River District. Murray spurred the Warren County Board of Supervisors to pursue a restriction on tractor-trailers on Reliance Road. Murray presented his case to the committee, joined by Doug Stanley and Bob Childress, county administrator and deputy county administrator for Warren County, respectively.

“This is a constant issue with everybody out here,” Murray said Tuesday, adding that the homeowners association remains concerned about the truck traffic on the narrow road. “I can name a gamut of people that have complained so I kind of took it on and this is kind of a charge I’m running.”

“But we actually had the Frederick County (committee) vote in favor of going to a public hearing in support of us,” Murray added. “Now once they have their public hearing done, then we can have ours then we can move the 18-wheelers, the tractor-trailers off of Reliance Road.”

Even dump trucks traveling on the road can make driving treacherous for other motorists, Murray said.

“It’s basically a safety hazard and they don’t observe speed (limits),” Murray said. “They just roll.”

Murray acknowledged that the counties can’t ban smaller trucks from using the road but they can try to restrict 18-wheelers. Global positioning systems may direct tractor-trailer operators to use Reliance Road, Murray said. The supervisor said he’s spoken to some drivers who admitted that they can cut their travel distance to the Virginia Inland Port by taking Reliance Road.

The Frederick County committee considered at its November meeting a request from Warren County to seek a joint truck restriction for Reliance Road. The committee responded by providing questions to Warren County’s administration. The Virginia Department of Transportation and some residents responded to the request.

Frederick County would need to file its own application and hold a public hearing on the request should officials choose to support the proposal, VDOT said.

The most recent traffic count shows that Reliance Road in Frederick County tallies 1,800 vehicle trips per day. Trucks with three or more axles make up 2 percent of the vehicles using the road, equating to 36 per day.

County Administrator Doug Stanley stated in an email to Bishop dated Dec. 1 that the concern originated with residents along Reliance Road in Warren County who voiced complaints to Murray. The supervisor had personally witnessed the driving behavior of the trucks and some of the near misses, Stanley stated. The portion of Reliance Road in Warren County is significantly narrower than the part running through Frederick County and leaves little passing room for vehicles, Stanley noted.

“Given the curvature of the roadway, I think you would agree that it is less than ideal for heavy truck traffic,” Stanley stated.

Edwin Carter, assistant residency administrator in VDOT’s Edinburg office, said in a Jan. 6 email to Bishop and Stanley that the agency’s traffic engineers performed an informal review of truck restrictions on Reliance Road. However, Carter stated that VDOT can’t restrict the route because there are “no geographic features that would preclude trucks from navigating the roadway safely.” Should both localities seek a restriction, they would need to pursue the process that includes gathering public input, Carter noted.

A restriction could hamper future development and road improvements that could take advantage of the proximity the route affords to Interstates 66 and 81, U.S. 340 and the Virginia Inland Port, Carter warned.

A restriction would not stop trucks from delivering shipments to industries, businesses, farming operations and residences along the route, Carter adds. Interstate laws prevent truck restrictions within one mile of the National Network that covers the two interstates and the Virginia Qualifying Highways that include U.S. 522 and U.S. 340.

“Only through trucks will be prohibited, and this will only be as effective as enforcement employed and their ability to discern a thru truck from a local industry truck or a truck using a facility within one mile of a Qualifying Highway,” Carter said.

A local resident stated in an email in response to media coverage of the proposal that too many trucks travel on Reliance Road through Warren County and use the winding, narrow route as a short cut to and from U.S. 340-522 and the area shopping center.

Another resident, Kevin Keefauver, stated in an email to Bishop that Frederick County officials receive few complaints because the section is better in that locality. The road narrows in Warren County and features deep drop-offs, the resident stated.

Residents Max and Ellen Yoder ask Frederick County officials to assist Warren County with the road safety problem, pointing out that students travel the route to Lord Fairfax Community College. They state that the trucks are too large for the narrow road and make it unsafe for people to cross, walk or ride bicycles.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com