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Overweight in Upper Nazareth is Unenforceable -- For Now

Upper Nazareth Township is working to update its ordinances for weight-restricted roads, which are currently not backed up by engineering or traffic studies.

While residents to crack down on illegal, overweight tractor-trailers, another municipality is fighting for the right to enforce a sign that clearly states, “Weight Limit -- 5 Tons.”

According to Alan Siegfried, police chief of , a technicality stands in the way of his department enforcing weight limits on township roads. And so far it has caused the township to lose a potential fine of more than $18,000.

In May, officers were dispatched to Friedenstahl Avenue for a report of a disabled truck. What officers found, Siegfried said, was a tri-axle dump truck loaded with stones.

The bridge on Friedenstahl has a posted weight limit of 5 tons.

After making a few calls, brought down the department’s scale so the truck could be weighed.

The fine handed to the driver was about $18,450, Siegfried said.

In preparation for the court hearing, it was discovered that when the township ordinance for the weight restriction on Friedenstahl was adopted -- in the 1980s -- engineering and traffic studies were not required.

Fast forward to the present: All weight-restricted roads must be backed up by engineering and traffic studies. The ordinance -- or any of the other weight restriction ordinances -- had never been updated, Siegfried said.

“There was no point in proceeding,” Siegfried said, adding that the $18,000 citation was tossed.

The issue was presented to the at a meeting Wednesday night. 

Al Kortze, the township’s engineer, suggested the board hold off on making a decision.

“I would think, before the board would make any motion, give these roads some thought and decide which would be advantageous for an official ordinance,” Kortze said, adding that a traffic study -- per road -- costs about $400 to $600.

Siegfried agreed, saying some roads may have signs without real justification. 

“People would come in and complain about trucks on this street and that street,” Siegfried said. “ So they would just put signs up all over the place and think that would solve the problem.”

Supervisors agreed that Friedenstahl Avenue, Rose Inn Avenue and Silvercrest Road would all be priority roads. However, the board agreed to table the matter until a full list could be compiled.

In other truck news, the requested the assistance of Upper Nazareth in paying for an engineering and traffic study for Werner Road, which was recently the .

"The drivers are missing their turns. They have told us this," Siegfried said, adding that the drivers are heading toward warehouses in East Allen Township. "These trucking companies have direction systems in the trucks. The drivers aren’t using them. They are using a plain-old GPS and when they miss their turn, the GPS tells them, 'Make a right turn here,' even if there is a sign that says, 'No Trucks.'"

Pam Berlew, chairwoman of the township's Planning Commission, said, "If they’re lost, they’re probably going to drive on that road anyway."

The board agreed that it will reconsider taking action if Lower Nazareth receives additional complaints.

Laurie Ehasz June 21, 2012 at 08:56 PM
So, I guess nothing gets done about this problem until an accident happens due to damaged bridges. And who will end up responsible - the taxpayers, paying for a lawsuit and/or repairs for all the damages. If these truck drivers were fined enough times, A. - look at the revenue for our police departments and townships, B.-they may start using their "direction systems" in their trucks, and C.-we, as residents would be safer and not have to fork out our hard earned money to fix the bridges. Apparently, that doesn't make sense to some people.
93GEO-Metro June 22, 2012 at 08:10 AM
And if people have pickups registered as a truck with truck license plates on this sign clearly means you too. A truck is a truck regardless of size or weight. Can't that be enforced either then???

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