Hoping to cut down on serious crashes along the Route 18 corridor, Washington and North Franklin Township police will be conducting a blitz Saturday targeting not only aggressive drivers but also trucks with equipment or other violations.
Officers from the two departments will be splitting time in the two municipalities over about a 10-hour period.
The departments were given a grant to cover the cost of manpower because of the high number of crashes along the corridor, said Jay Ofsanik, safety press officer for the state Department of Transportation’s District 12. He said there have been 210 crashes with two people killed from 2007 to 2011. One person was killed in a crash this year. The Route 18 corridor includes Henderson, Jefferson and Park avenues.
Police also will be looking at commercial vehicles for possible violations, said city police Chief Robert Lemons. Over the past several years, the departments have seen truck traffic increase because of work associated with the Marcellus Shale gas industry.
“Some of those trucks shouldn’t have even been on the road,” Lemons said, adding the violations run the gamut from equipment violations to drivers being too tired. “We look for potential problems, so that if there is one, we can get it fixed to protect other motorists and pedestrians.”
North Franklin police Sgt. Jerry Cavanaugh said police will really focus on the equipment violations, such as bad brakes.
“You can never tell from one day to another what we’ll find,” Cavanaugh said. “Some days we are out there and get nothing. There are many companies who keep their trucks well-maintained.”
Fines for violations can range from $25 to thousands of dollars.
Lemons said city police continue to have problems with truckers ignoring the signs prohibiting them from exiting Interstate 70 west at Jefferson Avenue and traveling onto East Wylie Avenue.
“They are supposed to continue west, get off at Jessop Place and come back eastbound to Jefferson,” Lemons said. “But I think 90 percent of the drivers ignore that and get off onto Wylie.”
Local police often ask for assistance from the state motor carrier enforcement program to weigh trucks. The two departments would like to get a set of scales to weigh the big rigs that use the local roads. However, the needed equipment costs $60,000 and does not include the cost of a trailer to haul it to a site.