ROCKINGHAM — A downtown wreck early Monday afternoon illustrated the need for an alternate truck route that city leaders have wanted for more than three decades.
A tractor-trailer from Ontario, Canada-based Team Logistics Systems, Inc. collided with a van from A&M Contractors, Inc. while making a turn onto Hancock Street from East Washington Street — the route for U.S. 1.
Rockingham City Manager Monty Crump said there have been talks to keep trucks out of the downtown area since before he came on board in 1982.
In July of 2015, the city council adopted a resolution requesting the N.C. Department of Transportation to create a truck route from Fayetteville Road onto Greene Street to U.S. 220.
A spokesperson for the DOT’s District 8 office said Monday that such a route is expected to be included in the State Transportation Improvement Plan next month to provide better access for truck traffic and keep them from having to make sharp turns downtown.
Aside from Monday’s wreck, there have been several trucks to damage the bricks at Harrington Square.
According to Crump, city leaders have met with DOT engineers and are actively working on making the route a reality.
“This is the most promising opportunity we’ve ever had to get this done,” he said, adding that local DOT board member Pat Melanthy has been “very involved” with the project and the DOT has been “cooperative.”
With a potential safety issue arising from the future Richmond Community College satellite campus, Crump said the project has the increased potential of the project getting funded.
Although plans aren’t set in stone, some changes could include the removal of the stoplight at the intersection of Randolph Street and switching the stop signs at the intersection with North Lee Street to allow truckers to drive through unimpeded to U.S. 220.
He also said they’re striving for a plan that would have the smallest impact on surrounding property owners — and minimal cost.
“It’s just a good plan that works all the way around,” he said.
An earlier plan to create a U.S. 1 bypass has been taken off the table, according to the DOT.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.