VANDALIA — It’s no secret that semi-truck traffic through Vandalia and Butler Township has increased over the past year, but just how much is a question that Vandalia leaders hope find out.
That topic led off the study session with the Vandalia City Council and staff members prior to last Tuesday’s city council meeting.
During the meeting, City Manager Jon Crusey reported that city staff has met with three consulting engineering firms to consider ways to reduce and minimize truck traffic on National Road between I-75 and Peter’s Pike.
What is clear is the city cannot prohibit truck traffic in its entirety.
“Our understanding was confirmed that we cannot prohibit truck traffic on National Road because it is a state highway,” said Crusey in the Friday, September 4 letter to council.
Crusey went on to say that the city needs to determine where the trucks are coming from and where they are going. As examples, he said truck could be coming through town to get to the Flying J truck stop, to local businesses, or to “destinations west of the airport,” such as the Proctor & Gamble distribution center in Union.
“Until we figure out the source and destination of these trucks it is very difficult to devise a plan to discourage them,” he said.
Traffic counts will be performed at three intersections along National Road for the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District (TID) as part of the design work for widening National Road between the Airport Access Road and Airpark Blvd.
24-hour traffic counts will be taken at the intersections of Peters Pk./National Road; Airport Access Road/National Road; and Airpark Blvd./National Road.
The city has installed signs on the I-75 to encourage trucks to use the Airport Access Road to get to final stops west of downtown. Signage has also been placed at the Flying J exit and on Peters Pike directing trucks to I-75 and I-70 respectively.
Some in the meeting noted that GPS can also cause trucks to go through town if that is deemed the most direct route by the driver’s GPS unit. Crusey acknowledged that and said that the city could contact GPS navigation companies to request that U.S. 40 (National Road) be removed as the primary route, but said that may be difficult to accomplish.
Crusey also suggested that an outreach program to local companies as well as “adjacent jurisdictions” could “educate those companies and their drivers about the need to utilize the interstate system for their deliveries and pickups rather than National Road.”
Other ways under consideration are what Crusey calls “traffic calming measures,” or center islands/medians, narrowing of driving lanes, and bulbouts at intersections where pedestrians cross.
In a memorandum to Crusey, City Planner Amber Holloway said these non-regulatory measures “have the potential to reduce speed and make the roadway more appealing for bicyclists and pedestrians.” She noted, however, that there are “limited areas of placement for medians on National Road; however there is a center turn lane already in place, thus making the installation of medians relatively simple.”
She noted that developing a traffic count is necessary to identify where trucks are coming from to identify problem areas and to develop a baseline so that the city will know if any measures taken have a positive impact.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.