Threat of $10,000 fines for trucks looms over section of Maryland highway

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Friday, July 15, 2016

Truckers driving on Maryland Route 75 (Green Valley Road) in Frederick County should be mindful of truck restrictions on a particular stretch of the highway. Lawmakers are threatening to reintroduce a bill that will increase maximum fines from $500 to $10,000 if the problem persists.

Earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly introduced bills SB885 and HB322, which would increase the maximum fine for disobeying a “traffic control device” that governed the height of vehicles travelling on MD 75 between Baldwin Road and Maryland Route 80 (Fingerboard Road) in Frederick County. The bills would raise the maximum fine to $10,000 from $500.

 

Reroute to Costco Distribution Center

According to Maryland State Highway Administration press release, the truck restrictions were established three years ago after trucks kept getting stuck under a low railroad bridge. In effect, since July 18, 2013, commercial vehicles over 48 feet long or over 102 inches wide are banned from the stretch of highway.

The Maryland Motor Truck Association opposed the bills, arguing the fines would be excessive and set a dangerous precedent, according to MMTA President Louis Campion. Legislation was ultimately struck down after the Senate Judicial Proceeding Committee found the bills to be “unfavorable.”

Issues with trucks too tall for the bridge were exacerbated when a Costco Distribution Depot opened nearby. Truckers have been advised to access the center from the north using Interstate 70 to Exit 62. Appropriate signage alerting drivers of the restrictions was also placed.

Despite signage posted, truckers continue to travel down the road with no way to backtrack, according to Campion. When oversized trucks access the two-lane road, a lack of turnaround availability can stop traffic.

Although Costco’s outbound transport uses one large carrier that is well aware of the situation, inbound transport often comes from owner-operators and drivers of other brokered loads who may be new to the route. Costco explains the route to inbound carriers with flyers and a driver help line. Further addressing the issues, Costco has even contributed $150,000, plus design costs, to build a truck turnaround on both sides of the bridge, according to Campion.

The numbers of stuck trucks have gone down, but despite all the efforts, the problem still persists. Campion told Land Line that the House Environment and Transportation Committee was clear about one thing: Improve the situation or they are reintroducing the bill next year.

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