Mayor Andy Ezard asked aldermen for direction during Monday’s City Council meeting but said he doesn’t want to place a permanent police presence downtown to fix the problem because he says the frequency at which trucks come through is random.
There is an ordinance on the books that indicates trucks must only drive on state highways, unless they’re making local deliveries. Jacksonville Police Chief Tony Grootens calls the ordinance vague and obsolete and says he’d like to sit down the city attorney to have it re-written.
Ward 5 Alderman Steve Warmowski says most trucks that come through downtown are making local deliveries.
“The thing I heard when we had the old downtown with the quad buildings on the inside, that trucks would follow old maps and they would end up on dead ends and the police would have to come out and back them out. So, they were going off of old maps, and now it’s people following GPS that might have old data,” he says.
“But, people are going down Main Street, and with the islands in the way of the street design, you can’t really get a truck through there, and you also don’t want trucks going downtown from the noise, the wear and tear on the streets, the impact on local businesses, on pedestrians. It’s just a safety thing,” Warmowski continues.
Warmowski says the problem is communication. He says he’s driven down Main Street, Walnut Street and Morton Avenue looking for indications of a truck route or restrictions, and hasn’t found them.
“They might be there, but if I went out actually looking for them and I couldn’t find them, just think [about] someone who’s driving a semi who’s in town for the first time, can they see it? So, it’s something that’s been going on for some time, I’ve been working with Alderman Bill Scott, he’s the chairman of the committee,” Warmowski says.
“I’m working towards making the communication better for truckers to get through town, because they have an important job. Trucking is what enables businesses to operate both in Jacksonville and the region, so we can’t just be mean to the truckers and make their job harder.”
Jim Burke of Hutchison Engineering explained to aldermen on Monday what the plans are for new signage.
“With the completion of plans for North Main, we anticipate doing some additional signing as you approach the square from the north, and then we may just have to do something with Motor Fuel Tax funds with signing for the south state streets,” says Burke.
Warmowski also told aldermen a constituent who worked for the Army as a transport specialist suggested having the Illinois Department of Transportation re-designate a portion of Route 104 as Route 78 so that truck drivers could use Route 78 all through Jacksonville.