By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Rather than prohibiting truck traffic in Newbern, local officials are hoping a local quarry’s request that trucks avoid that section of Wilderness Road will solve problems raised a few months ago.
In August, a representative of Wilderness Road Regional Museum asked Pulaski County Board of Supervisors to consider restricting heavy trucks from using the road that passes through the Newbern community. Julia Kriss said the trucks pose a safety hazard to pedestrians and shake the museum so much that the historic building has actually sustained damage.
County Administrator Pete Huber told the board Monday night that Holston River Quarry is asking trucks leaving the quarry not to use the section of Wilderness Road that passes through Newbern. The Quarry is located on the section of Wilderness Road that intersects with State Park Road.
“This has certainly reduced the volume of trucks through there,” said Huber. The quarry already was in the process of moving its entrance to State Park Road from Wilderness Road. Huber said the county has supported this effort by endorsing a speed limit change and relocating a water line.
Quarry Manager Tony Landreth estimates in an email to Huber that it will take 12 to 18 months to have the entrance ready for use as a “worst case scenario.”
Landreth states in the email that the county “needs to be very cautious in supporting road restrictions” because “once a restriction of this sort is placed upon a road it will not be lifted.” He points out, though, that there may be times when the quarry’s trucks have to pass through Newbern due to wrecks or construction on Route 100.
“We take safety of the public very seriously and will make every endeavor” to route trucks around Newbern, Landreth writes. He added that it is his understanding there have been no accidents or speeding citations involving large trucks or through trucks in Newbern.
David Clarke, Virginia Department of Transportation’s residency maintenance manager, recommended two options to the supervisors Monday: installation of signs stating that the road isn’t recommended for trucks or installation of signs designating Route 100 as a truck route.
“It’s not a prohibition to go one way, it’s a recommendation to go another way,” Clarke said. Neither option would require a public hearing; whereas a truck prohibition would.
Draper District Supervisor Dean Pratt, who represents the Newbern community, asked staff to contact the museum to see if there has been a noticeable reduction in truck traffic passing through the community. He said having the quarry ask truck drivers not to use the road might be the best and cheapest solution until the new entrance is opened.