After more than three months of discussion and no decisions on the issue of truck traffic, the Upper Nazareth Board of Supervisors finally agreed Wednesday night to pay for Silver Crest Road to undergo an engineering and traffic study.
The move is a small step forward for the township, which is fighting for the right to enforce weight limit and "No Trucks Allowed" signs.
According to Alan Siegfried, police chief of Upper Nazareth Township, 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 potential fine payments of more than $18,000.
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All weight-restricted roads must be backed by engineering and traffic studies. All of the township's weight-restriction ordinances -- adopted in the 1980s when those studies were not required -- had never been updated.
Although supervisors agreed in June that Friedenstahl Avenue, Rose Inn Avenue and Silver Crest Road would all be priority roads, only Silver Crest got the nod -- for now.
Supervisor James Augustine was hesitant to move forward because the township does not have a scale or a weigh team.
"There's still the question of whether we'll be able to enforce [the restrictions]," Augustine said to Siegfried. "We can’t enforce them for two reasons: 1. We don’t have traffic or engineering studies; 2. We don’t have scales."
According to Siegfried, one scale costs about $3,000 -- the department would need six sets of scales. In addition, an officer needs to be trained and scales need to be certified every 60 days in Harrisburg.
Although weigh teams from Bushkill Township, Pen Argyl and Pennsylvania State Police are willing to help, Siegfried admitted "the circumstances would have to be perfect that someone is available."
"But your fines are extremely high," he reasoned.
The studies, meanwhile, are cheaper than the scales. Al Kortze, the township’s engineer, said a traffic study -- per road -- costs about $400 to $600.
Augustine noted that after a few fines are issued from Silver Crest, the studies will be paid for.
The choice of Silver Crest -- which intersects Township Line Road -- wasn't made on a whim.
In late 2011, Upper Nazareth entered into an agreement with East Allen Township that would allow its officers to cite trucks that travel illegally on the East Allen side of Township Line Road. The center line of that road forms the border between the townships.
One provision of the agreement states that revenue from fines generated by traffic stops on the East Allen side of the road by Upper Nazareth police will be collected by Upper Nazareth. East Allen relies on State Police for coverage.
And in September 2011, supervisors asked PennDOT to approve a signage change on state-owned Newburg Road -- which intersects Silver Crest -- in an effort to reduce truck traffic in the neighborhood.
Tractor trailers making wide turns at intersections not designed for heavy truck traffic -- such as Newburg and Silver Crest roads -- have knocked down signs and mailboxes and have disrupted traffic patterns in the area.