Answer Line: No plans for more enforcement on trucks around Dollar General project
Dec. 13, 2017 at 11:54 p.m.
QUESTION: Regarding the proposed Dollar General distribution center in Longview, will the Longview Economic Development Corp. and city invest in the needed commercial vehicle law enforcement resources to meet the challenge of the additional truck traffic it will create?
ANSWER: For review, Answer Line reported about a week ago that, according to the economic development corporation, the project would create about 275 truck trips each day.
Longview Police Sgt. Shane McCarter said the department has six police officers certified to perform commercial motor vehicle inspections. The department's website explains that the inspection program started in 2009, thanks to a change in law authorizing cities with more than 50,000 residents to establish such an enforcement effort.
"The goal of the program is to improve the safety of the public by deterring violations being committed by operators of large commercial vehicles," says information on the police department's website. "The most common of these violations are vehicles that are overweight, have hazardous equipment violations or have operators that are exceeding their driving hours. Commercial motor vehicles that are overweight are largely responsible for the damage caused to Longview city roadways and place a burden on Longview taxpayers for the repair of these damaged roads."
That program has resulted in the discovery of thousands of violations and the removal of hundreds of trucks from service because of safety violations.
McCarter said the department does not expect to expand the inspection unit.
"The goal of the CMV program is safety, for all traffic and also to ensure the trucks are not overloaded and causing damage to the roadways," he said. "Even though the Dollar General facility will cause an increase in the number of commercial vehicles on the roadway, all trucks are not stopped. The CMV program operates in much the same manner as our patrol officers making traffic stops. There is no possible way to stop all violations, but a consistent presence allows for a constant reminder to operate vehicles in a safe and prudent manner."
McCarter said all but one of the six officers are assigned to the traffic division, so their primary jobs consist of traffic enforcement and accident investigations. Any patrol officer may stop a truck on a traffic violation, though, and then, if the situation calls for it, call one of the officers who are certified for commercial vehicle inspections.
Q: Why did the city of Longview stop decorating the municipal complex for Christmas?
A: You tested Answer Line's memory, because, honestly, I couldn't recall the last time City Hall's exterior was decorated for the holiday season. City officials told me that practice stopped about 14 years ago, after the Tyler Street renovation project was completed.
"The decision was made at that time to focus the available budget on decorating the street landscape on the downtown streets" instead of at the City Hall, library and police department complex, said city spokesman Shawn Hara.
Q: Why is there a photo enforced traffic light sign at the corner of Estes Parkway and Kodak Boulevard (in front of Walmart)?
A: Longview had red light cameras for about eight years, until the City Council voted to end the program as of May 2015. McCarter, the police spokesman, said that lingering sign is an "oversight," and the streets department has been notified so it will be removed.
Q: I would like for you to reprint "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus," the article that the man wrote in some newspaper many years ago. I just love that, and I had a copy of that, and I lost it.
A: It is sweet, and I just love that this newspaper editorial has been circulating for more than 100 years after it first was published on Sept. 21, 1897, in the New York Sun. The Washington, D.C.-based Newseum says the unsigned response by "veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church" to a child's inquiry about Santa Claus is the "most reprinted newspaper editorial."
News-Journal Editor Ric Brack told me you can look for it on the News-Journal's editorial page on Christmas Eve. Happy clipping.
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