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Heavy-truck traffic topic of public hearing; Town closing 4 roads to heavy rigs

The Town of Malone is closing four roads to most truck traffic, claiming the pavement can’t take the daily punishment, and people are in danger.

The impacted highways are Porter Road, Goodman Road, Thomas Hill Road and River Road.

A public hearing will be held Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. in the Town Offices at the Malone-Dufort Airport, giving residents and business owners a chance to tell the Town Council what they think of the idea of limiting usage to local-delivery trucks and farming equipment.

Deputy Town Supervisor Paul Walbridge said the town was approached by several residents a year ago concerned about the high volume and speed of the large tandem trucks using town roads to connect with state highways.

Dump trucks from local gravel pits head east where wind-farm projects were built just over Franklin County’s shared border with Clinton County by Noble Environmental Power.

The Connecticut-based company also plans to build other wind-energy plants in Chateaugay, Burke and Bellmont.

Alternate route

But the alternate route the heavy trucks would use instead of the four roads in question would be Duane Street Road, which passes the Malone Recreation Park and Malone Golf Club and ends in the Village of Malone.

“They are talking about sending trucks by the Rec Park where there are kids most of the summer,” said Franz Fredericks, manager of Titus Mountain Sand and Gravel.

The roads his drivers will be banned from using “are the easiest and shortest way out of town. With the price of gasoline and fuel, that would be a long way to go,” he said.

He said the trucking firms use special tires meant to absorb the added weight of heavy loads and pay the town extra for hauling permits.

But Fredericks wonders where that money goes if not to road repairs if these larger trucks cause damage.

“We hope to find out where the money goes before the public hearing,” he said.

Fredericks also plans to find out why the Town Council does not plan to close Low Road out of Whippleville to heavy-truck traffic.

It is the road that town dump trucks use to haul loads from the gravel pit to Webster Street Road.

“I just hope everybody will talk about it and come to an understanding,” he said.

Speed a concern

Town of Malone homeowners complained to the Town Council that the truck traffic starts at 5:30 or 6 a.m. with drivers normally obeying the posted speed limit of 40 to 45 mph.

But as the days go on, and the number of trips increases, the speeds also pick up, Walbridge said.

“We understand in business that time is money,” Walbridge said, “but at the same time, you have to think about safety, and that is what is most in our mind.

“There isn’t any police presence there. We’ve had the State Police out there, and (Town Supervisor) Howard Maneely was out there with them. Of course, they’re going to slow down with the police right there.

“These roads weren’t built for that kind of traffic and speed,” Walbridge said. “It’s mostly residential areas there, and people walk along the road. It’s just not safe.”

He said he knows the change won’t be a popular one, but the public hearing will give everyone who wants to the chance to air their views.

“Time is money, but we have to look at safety,” the deputy supervisor said. “That’s why I was elected.”

By Denise A. Raymo
Staff Writer

The Press Republican

15 July 2008