Extra Signage Aimed at Curbing Semi Traffic Damage to Square

By Jeremy Coumbes on December 5, 2023 at 9:35pm

The City of Jacksonville is working to cut down on the number of traffic crashes involving semi-trucks on the downtown plaza.

Ever since the square was reopened to traffic more than a decade ago, the city has faced an ongoing problem of semis venturing off of the posted truck routes and causing damage to the infrastructure on both the North and South Main Street entrances to the plaza due to the narrow lanes around the center islands.

As recently as August of this year, an out-of-state semi-truck crashed into a concrete post and section of fencing, and also ran up into the center island, while trying to turn off of the square and onto North Main Street. The incident caused an estimated $14,000 worth of damage.

Superintendent of City Hall, Plaza, and Maintenance for the City of Jacksonville, John Green told the City Council at the time, that luckily the semi-truck owner’s insurance would cover the cost. However, there have been other instances when a vehicle got away and the city was left stuck footing the bill.

During that meeting, the council approved placing additional warning signage aimed at keeping the big trucks from going onto the plaza. Green says there are posted truck routes that divert the trucks from going through the square, but conflicting information can cause a big rig to end up there anyway.

In their defense, their GPS will take them that way. They’re not supposed to be up there, but it takes them that way. So we’re trying to get some new signage out so that when they do get up there and they are committed, and now they’re on the square, we’re trying to get them an easier path to get off the square without turning on North or South Main and having to deal with the center islands.”

New signs have been placed along Main Street from the center islands on the plaza, to out on the approaches to Morton Avenue and Walnut Street to give truck drivers notice of the actual truck routes which call for semis to divert via Clay Avenue or Church Street- the only two streets outside of Main that make the complete trip across the center of town.

Green says if Semi-trucks still end up on the plaza, new signage has been installed to try and help drivers find the safe way off of the square, and not try to make the narrow turn near the center islands resulting in more crashes.

And therefore they run into the curbs and the fence and the light poles. So we’re trying to make it so they can jog off of there a little easier rather than make a big turn. We went out a little bit further. There are truck routes and we are trying to get them to use those. So we thought with some new signage it may help a little bit.”

The new signs on the square tell drivers that semi-trucks are not allowed to turn onto Main Street and instead direct them to jog off the square via North Mauvaisterre and South Sandy Streets.

During the August meeting when the placement of the new signage was approved, it was suggested that if the signage does not work and semi-trucks continue to cause damage entering and leaving the square, the city may have to consider removing the Main Street center islands altogether.