Truckers: Follow the yellow painted line

Grant Machan
Grant Machan initiates discussion on how to get large trucks off core downtown streets. Photo credit: Sally Smith
Posted on: September 12, 2018

Sally Smith

An hour into Committee of the Whole Tuesday night, a big issue, discussed many times, came up for deliberation again — heavy transport vehicles through the middle of town.

Grant Machan, Director of Environmental Services, gave an overview of truck routing in Perth; there is a limited north-south corridor on Drummond Street with a prohibition on heavy trucks.

Gore Street/Wilson Street is the other north-south corridor with the idea to “link to peripheral highways through Perth to go to other destinations.

“In the 60s to 90s” he continued, “the connecting link system was Wilson, Gore, North and Craig streets, which were owned by the province, and operated by the municipalities.” At the time, all of Gore St. and Wilson St. was built for heavy trucks — including bridges and the quality of the asphalt.

Then, due to provincial downloading in the 1990s, Machan explained, “we assumed those as our own municipal streets.”

In the transportation master plan, one of the historic issues that kept coming up was truck routing, he said. The plan looked at “identified truck routes, counts, turning movements and corridors.”

The master plan shows the truck route as being Wilson St. to North St. to Sherbrooke, then Chetwynd St. and then to Craig. The other truck route is Wilson and North and Gore.

Machan posed some questions — who’s in the trucks? If a call-list driver, they do their best to get through town. For big, oversized loads, there used to be a vehicle that scouted the route, but you don’t see that anymore. Now there is a chase truck and a lead truck, and they do their best to get through municipalities.

Truck drivers as well as everyday drivers use GPS routing; that tells the quickest route, and sometimes they get jammed up, he added.

Machan noted there has been an increase of heavy trucks on rural roads. He said North Street has 26 signs, 13 on each side, and added that signage without enforcement doesn’t work. “If people want to go that way, they’re going to go that way.”

Recommendations in the master plan included turning improvements on North Street for turning radiuses for heavy trucks, and setbacks and centre line amendments on Sherbrooke Street. Recommendations also included increased signage in that corridor to “promote wayward drivers so they follow sign after sign, and for basic construction of an arterial road — a big ticket item,” Machan conceded.

Mayor Fenik asked if it was legal to put up a structure; Machan answered that if one was put up, his suggestion would be to make it a “breakaway, for those who don’t choose to abide by it.”

Councillor Turner asked if a truck route could be painted on the road with an arrow and an icon.

Machan answered there is no standard for a line but it was identified as an item of interest. He likened it to the yellow lines on hospital floors leading patients to their destinations.

Deputy mayor Gemmell suggested putting it on Facebook — Perth is a heritage town with traffic issues. A path has been identified for truck drivers to follow and if they don’t there will be enforcement.

Councillor Graff, in the trucking business for 15 years before he retired, candidly said council members were “barking up the wrong tree. The biggest thing is proper signage, bright green. What about downtown store deliveries,” he questioned. “All road painting is going to do is be confusing.”

Mayor Fenik made a unanimously carried motion (by those attending) that the Director of Environmental Services “explore painted truck routes on road surfaces in the downtown core.”

Councillor Graff also brought a motion from the Police Services Board (with, as its intent, to get something done as soon as possible) that council purchase and install appropriate truck directional signage for all major streets that enter and exit Perth to assist drivers in avoiding the downtown core including Drummond St., with direction to include the use of North St., Sherbrooke St. and Chetwynd St., and to ask the Director to report back.