Citations drop after PA town adds more ‘banned truck’ signs

| 11/3/2011

Since August, the borough of Macungie, PA has seen its truck enforcement revenues come to a screeching halt.

Why the difference? 

A few new road signs, apparently, is all it took.

Once on pace to hit $160,000, Macungie Mayor Rick Huffman said the borough’s truck citation revenues have remained close to $88,000 since new signs went up this summer warning drivers that all trucks with trailers longer than 45 feet were banned on Pennsylvania Route 100.

Local ordinance bans truck-trailer combinations more than 8 feet wide and 65 feet long – pretty much all commercial trucks nowadays. But truck drivers have complained for years that the signs are too close to town to give drivers time to turn around.

“I’ve been fighting with the police for two years over these signs,” Huffman told Land Line Magazine Wednesday. “They were confusing, and there weren’t enough of them. This will cost my borough $80,000 to $100,000 a year in revenue, but I think what’s fair is fair.”

Earlier this year, Huffman said, he asked the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to examine the placement of signs warning drivers of the borough’s restrictions on State Route 100.

Drivers needed more warning about the truck restrictions, Huffman said.

The state agreed, and added four new signs nearly a mile outside the borough in August.

“The signs are very simple,” Huffman said. “They will let smaller trucks in, but that’s just the way it is.”

Macungie’s mayor said he has insight into trucking.

A lifelong resident of the Lehigh Valley, Huffman said the area is proud of its ties to Hershey chocolate, Perrier, and its Mack Trucks assembly plant in Macungie.

Huffman’s own dad, the late Stan Huffman, drove tankers all his life, retiring as a driver for Gulf Oil.

Watching his dad work gave Rick an appreciation for truck drivers and the jobs they perform.

His job on the Macungie Borough Council gives him a picture the reality of public safety

Macungie’s historic downtown includes yards lined by stone walls, Huffman said. Wide trucks occasionally have hit the walls or squeezed through by crossing lane boundaries, creating a safety issue.

“It was a safety matter and I have no argument with that,” Huffman said. “But the signs just weren’t right.”

OOIDA Member Jim Sandt says the signs still aren’t as clear as they could be.

Sandt alerted Land Line last spring about the high numbers of trucks pulled over by Macungie police for violating the boroughs tight size restrictions. From 2006 through 2010, Macungie received $630,000 in fines from 4,000 truck drivers who violated the truck restriction.

Sandt retired from trucking in 2009 after hauling fuel tankers on the “Buckeye Pipeline” for more than 40 years.

Reached Wednesday, Sandt said he had seen the new signs and was glad Macungie was making an effort to warn drivers earlier.

Still, Sandt said he believes the signs could better explain the borough’s size limits.

“The signs don’t say anything about 102-inch wide trucks, just ones that have trailers 45 feet or longer,” Sandt said. “In some parts of Pennsylvania, they have a sign with ‘102’ and a line going through it.”