If a Virginia state lawmaker gets his way, truckers caught with
over-height vehicles at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia would once
again have to dig deeper into their pockets.
Heftier fines and warning letters to trucking companies last year
helped briefly curtail incidents of too-tall trucks attempting passage in the
westbound tube along Interstate 64 near Norfolk, VA. In recent months, however,
wayward trucks have been making their way back on to the route, The Virginian-Pilot reported. The result
has been more congestion.
To address the issue, Delegate Glenn Oder, R-Newport News, is calling
for getting tougher with problem trucks.
Virginia law calls for $500 fines and authorizes judges
to add three demerit points to a commercial driver’s license. It takes 18
demerits in one year to trigger a license suspension.
Oder said he wants fines for truckers who ignore height
restrictions to be doubled to $1,000 and allow judges to tack on five demerit
“For whatever reason, truckers have become accustomed to the fines and
the points,” Oder told the newspaper. “Maybe it’s not that important to them. I
don’t know, but clearly we have not set the bar high enough.”
Stiffer penalties took effect July 1, 2005, when the fine was increased
from $85 to $500 and three demerit points were added to existing deterrent
Signs have been posted on nearby Interstates 564 and 64, which merge to
form I-64, to inform truckers about the height restriction. If truckers fail to
heed the warnings, a series of four over-height sensors – one about one and
three-quarters miles away from the tunnel entrance, one at an inspection
station three-quarters of a mile away, another at about a quarter of a mile
away, and a fourth close to the tunnel’s mouth – alert a truck over 13 feet 6
inches tall if it attempts to pass.
Truckers that refuse to reroute must be stopped at the tunnel entrance
and diverted onto the south island, The
Virginian-Pilot reported. The truck is then directed to the
eastbound lanes, where traffic must be stopped to turn the truck around.
Traffic delays can last several minutes.
Oder said he is working on legislation to hike the
penalties for problem trucks that could be considered during the special
session on transportation scheduled to begin Sept. 25.