bridge

The problem of trucks getting stuck beneath the CSX bridge over Md. 75 has been ongoing for years.

ANNAPOLIS — A House committee signaled Friday afternoon that it might put the brakes on a Frederick County bill designed to impose up to $10,000 in fines for stuck trucks on Md. 75.

The bill — sponsored by the Frederick County delegation and supported by Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner — would increase the maximum penalty from $500 to $10,000 for trucks failing to obey warning signs on Md. 75 between Baldwin Road and Md. 80.

Since 2010, the State Highway Administration has responded to a 12-foot-6-inch CSX rail bridge on the road more than 200 times to help trucks that were stuck under the bridge or needed help turning around.

Members of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, which must support the bill to allow a vote of the full House of Delegates, seemed taken aback by the scale of the increased fine.

“It may seem somewhat unusual ... but we feel that the situation is so egregious and so serious,” said Delegate Kathy Afzali, R-District 4. “We wanted it to hurt. We wanted to send a message to truckers around the country.”

Afzali detailed the signs that are in the area leading to the bridge and leading to Md. 75. Signs warn trucks over a certain size that they will not be able to use the route as a through-road.

Most of the trucks that hit the bridge, or get stuck trying to turn around on the narrow, winding road, are headed for a Costco warehouse off Intercoastal Drive.

The Maryland Motor Truck Association opposes the bill. The group said the proposed fine “far outweighs the crime and would establish a dangerous public policy precedent on our roadways.”

The bill would impose the fine when trucks get stranded on the road, even if the bridge is not hit. Louis Campion, the president of the association, asked members whether he thought the fine should be many times higher than those for driving under the influence ($500) or fleeing and eluding police ($1,000).

Previously, Frederick County’s General Assembly delegation voted 7-0 to support the measure. Delegate William Folden, R-District 4, a member of the House committee, abstained from the vote.

“I have a hard time with a very excessive fine that does not match a crime,” Folden said at the end of the hearing.

Other lawmakers asked whether increased law enforcement or more coordination with Costco could reduce incidents. Folden and Campion said the problem would be largely addressed if turnarounds are installed for truckers that start out on the route before realizing the bridge is ahead.

The county has said at least one turnaround could be completed in about a year. Costco has given $150,000, and the Maryland State Highway Administration has identified a space to construct a turnaround on the north side. Conversations about improvement on the south side are continuing.

Steve McKay, president of Residents Against Landsdale Expansion, or RALE, said the fine could work in conjunction with the turnarounds and more needs to be done to improve the quality of life for nearby residents.

In July 2013, the State Highway Administration implemented a new truck restriction on the road to limit traffic.

The agency has spent $300,000 to install large signs, flashing lights and sensors to deter oversize trucks.

“We aren’t asking for money now. They’ve spent enough,” McKay said. “We think the violators should spend a little now.”

Six other Monrovia residents sent letters supporting the bill.

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

(47) comments

bjonesskins69

Put signs on 270. Again, I am the one who turns them around if I can catch them in time. The fine won't deter anyone. 90% come from 270. If a sign directly told them to proceed north, that should do it. It has been quiet the last week or so. But there is always tomorrow. Again, put signs on 270 Northbound, that should mostly correct the problem. I emailed SHA with that suggestion, but unless it is revenue oriented they pretty much stay in the dark.

richardlyons

Gotta love the photo of the CSX trailer crumpled under the CSX rail bridge.

moondog7809

Why does everybody keep mentioning deficient signage? There are more than enough signs, both on the shoulders and overhead that indicate low clearance ahead. The only way you end up at that bridge is by flat out ignoring them all.

Fredmd21704

exactly, plenty of signage on both sides, even miles away with warnings, but Kelly can't see those signs either, I guess she ignores the speed limit too because she ignores them.

KellyAlzan

This stuck truck issue is serious. Is a safety problem for fire, police and rescue personnel in the event they need to use that portion of road to respond to a call. It's a problem for the commuters and community to have to endure being delayed / inconvienienced due to stuck trucks.

The proposed bill needs to be withdrawn.

Lawmakers, SHA engineers, and truckers all need to form a committee and work in this together.

The law makers and SHA engineers need to come out from behind their desks and they all need to ride together from 355 and visit the journey in person.

delegate Kathy A is sponsoring a bill for a road she has not personally visited (from 355). This problem exists because of deficient signage and lack of turn around. Therefore the blame rests with the SHA.

The proposed bill needs to be withdrawn. And people need to put their heads together.

A defense attorney will fight the $10k fine and will make a mockery of the SHA On the merit of deficient signage and no turn arounds.

Bookie

Route 75, (from Route 355 north to Baldwin Road), was never intended to be a route for tractor trailers. First, as has been stated repeatedly, there are no shoulders for trucks to pull-off. Designated truck routes require such shoulders. And, tractor trailers can not safely navigate the limits below the CSX Bridge, (height AND width). Even IF the restrictions below the CSX Bridge could be resolved, this stretch of road would still not be suitable for tractor trailers. Thus, the Bridge issues will not be resolved.

Watching the video, it's interesting that it begins on Route 355 in Hyattstown. Route 355 north of Route 109 and south of Route 80 is restricted to 5 tons or less. Thus, a tractor trailer should never be at the intersection of Route 355 & Route 75!

Additionally, how many of the tractor trailers that reached the post office to "first" learn of the 12' 6" height issue at the CSX Bridge, (having TURNED from route 80 to north 75), EXCEEDED the 102" width and 48' length restrictions??

According to the State of MD Route Restrictions: "MD 75 - No trucks allowed on MD 75 between Baldwin Road and MD 80 either direction [Frederick]"
http://www.marylandroads.com/OOTS/routere1.pdf,

It is the responsibility of all drivers, including truck drivers, to know the road the restrictions on the roads they intend to travel, BEFORE they begin their trip.

And as far as the fines matching the "crime", let's not forget the truck that violated the road restrictions and crashed, very near to the CSX Bridge, taking the lives of two individuals in another vehicle...........

KellyAlzan

intentions of the road use have nothing to do with over height fines. Nothing.

If the state does not want over height trucks on that road - then they need to notify the trucks of this before they made the journey 1/2 way only to be notified with no turn around.

The state is fostering the violations.

Fredmd21704

their are signs 5 miles away on both sides warning the drivers.

stevemckay

In answer to your question - how many tractor trailers reaching the 12'6" height limit sign will have already violated the length & weight limit signs? - I believe the answer is all of them. The standard trailer length is 48-53'. Add another 15-20' for the truck tractor and you're way over the limit. My question is still whether you can be too high, but under the length/width dimensions. Still not sure about that.

KellyAlzan

Lots of speculation on your end, Steve. That's is not like you.

Tankers, low boys, and dump trailers are usually less than 48'. And many flatbeds are less than 48'.

Just because it's a trailer being pulled by a road tractor does not mean it's 48'. Some trailers are 40'. Some are 42'. Sea containers are either 20' or 40'.

Like I said, this is a serious issue. And needs addressed intelligently.

stevemckay

Not speculation but I'll accept that my knowledge is imperfect. As I researched truck sizes, I found the 48-52' box trailers to be pretty common and that's what I was referring to in my reply. Of course those trucks are also the primary problem.

KellyAlzan

The state first needs to provide the trucks with an alternative to violating restrictions.

it's like entrapment. Deficient signage. No turn around no pull off. Therefor - the truckers are not intentionally violating any laws. The state is actually fostering the violation with their deficient signage and lack of a safe turn around

Fredmd21704

why is it the state's fault that truck drivers can't read signs.!

KellyAlzan

KATHY AFAZLI:

ARE YOU GOING TO RESPOND TO THE E-MAIL I SENT YOU A FEW WEEKS AGO???

OR WILL YOU WAIT TILL ITS ELECTION SEASON AND SUDDENLY BECOME A RESPONSIVE PUBLIC SERVANT?

Kelly Q. Alzan

stevemckay

Kelly - here's a couple questions for you so that I can understand were you're coming from. If the signs were perfect, meaning that they were built exactly to your specification, and a trucker still blew past them and a police officer caught him/her trying to turn around (probably with somebody stopping traffic) before the bridge. Should there be a fine? How much? Next, same scenario, but this time the truck impacted the bridge and had to be hauled out. Should there be a fine and how much? Just curious to hear your response.

KellyAlzan

Hi Steve I wanted to acknowledge your questions to me I'm not in a position to respond right now so I will respond later this evening so check back in and I will respond in detail

KellyAlzan

I'm Back.

Ok, Steve, I have written about this here in the FNP comments expensively, not sure if you have read in the past what I have written.

I do not have trucks that have concerns with height. Our trucks have lowboy equipment trailers. I do not live in that area. So, I have no personal interest / benefit to any of this. My involvement is because the State of MD is to blame.

Also, Steve, you really need to review my YouTube movie (if you haven't yet).

Ok, so where to start?

Truck drivers do not make a lot of money. They have they DOT inspectors breathing down their backs every day they're on the road. They don't like a $150 or $500 fine anymore than you or I. And in all reality Steve, I bet you and I both individually make more money that most truck drivers. So, they're more likely to obey laws as their financial resources are limited.

Rout 75 is a highway. Its not a back country road like say Mapleville Road, Crum Road, or Coppermine Road.

The bulk of the stuck trucks are coming from the Northbound direction on Route 75. This means they most likely are coming from MD Rt 355. My YouTube video is focused on the northbound journey from MD Rt 355 to Monrovia. I am certain that if the politicians involved in this were to watch my video, they will see the signage deficiency, and I'm certain none of them have driven the road, so they would be seeing things for the first time.

There is no low bridge warning signs until you get to the Monrovia Post office. So, here a driver has come all the way from Rt 355, and after MANY miles - they final get a sign stating a low bridge is ahead. Its way too late to notify the truckers of this. THERE IS NO WHERE FOR THEM TO STOP. NO WHERE FOR THEM TO TURN AROUND. AND NO WHERE FOR THEM TO PULL OFF THE ROAD.

These trucks can weigh 80,000#. They can't turn around in the church parking lot, they will destroy it; and the church doesn't want them turning around there.

When we folk that own / drive trucks and we encounter restrictions signs, we proceed to drive ahead. Not to be rebellious, but we're hoping to find a place to get turned around in effort to respect the warning signs.

Route 75 North has no where for the trucks to turn around. No where for them to pull off out of the way. The drivers saw the warning signs. They proceeded in hopes of finding a place to turn around.

So Steve, to answer your first question - the signs do not need to be "built to" my specifications, THE SIGNS NEED TO BE STRATEGICALLY PLACED. THEY NEED TO BE PLACED PRIOR TO THE TRUCKS TURNING ONTO RT 75 NORTH FROM 355. THEY NEED TO BE PLACED AT TURN AROUND OR PULL OFF POINTS. The signs need intelligent locating. Like a game of Chess - its all about strategy.

We need intelligent placement of signs.

The road is one lane each direction. No shopping centers. No industrial parks. The trucks have no where to turn around currently.

So along with intelligently placed signs - we need turn-around points.

How can you expect trucks to do anything in regards to respecting the current signage when there's no places for them to turn around or pull off???

To your first question - at this point, no fines period. Once the state gets their heads out of the hineys and places the signs at intelligent locations, and once the state provides turn-around or pull-off points.....then start fining.

But right now, the state owns a majority of the blame / fault for this ongoing annoying issue.

And for your question about the truck impacting the bridge - again, as long as the state's posting of warning signs continues to be deficient - you can't blame the truckers.

Once the state dots their I's and crosses their T's (intelligent signage placement and turn-around / pull-off points) - then the state is justified in fining. And I would support that.

The damages shown in the FNP pics is far more than $10,000 for each individual truck / trailer combo unit. The last thing any of those drivers was to incur ANY damages; period.

THE STATE NEEDS TO OWN UP TO THIS PROBLEM. Placing the first warning sign at the Monrovia post office is just plain stupid. Who was the person that instructed the crews to put the first sign there??? Idiotic. What on earth is a tractor trailer supposed to do at that point??

I have e-mailed Kathy Afazli (spelling) a few weeks ago and so far my e-mail has gone IGNORED.


stevemckay

Ok, so I'm with you on turn arounds and I'm glad you accept the role of fines. Now let's focus on the length/width sign. My understanding is that sha used those signs because any truck exceeding those limits would either be (1) a tractor trailer that also exceeds the height limit, or (2) a flat bed that can't navigate the two 90 degree turns without posing a risk to drivers in the opposing lane. I'd be interested to know if, in your experience, that is a correct assessment of trucks in that overall size class. Of course, for trucks smaller than that posted length & width, but still too high for the bridge, the signage is inadequate. Of course, shorter trucks are also more able to turn around either at Nevets Place or Ed McClain Rd.

KellyAlzan

I'm not sure I have a response.

Some of what you wrote appears to be speculation. A flatbed navigates the same as a box trailer or a dump or a tanker trailer. And they all trail behind the tractor in the same fashion.

The length and width restrictions are because of the narrow road and tight turns. For a trucker this just means you drive slower. many highways like this will post a truck speed limit that is lower than the posted car speed limit.

This topic regards trucks getting stuck under the bridge and holding up traffic. Delaying the community. Blocking fire and rescue equipment that may need to use that portion of road to respond to a call. Over width and over length trucks are not part of this proposed fine and would be a moot argument in court when contesting the fine.

Let's say someone gets a 10,000 $ fine. They will for certain hire an attorney to contest it. I have no doubt that the attorney would argue the case that the signage is deficiently placed at a point with no turn around and no place to pull off. The attorney would not deny being over height.

Attorney Poffenberger was notorious for winning traffic tickets for his clients. He would challenge tickets for failure to stop at stop signs. He house drive out to the site and he would measure the stop sign, and would then argue that the stop sign was not erected to code. Anyone that is a native of Frederick county and that is familiar with attorney Poffenberger will vouch for this.

So just imagine the argument an attorney would make against the state for a client receiving a $10k fine. The road has no turn Around. It's as simple as that.

I was in Baltimore county last week. 95 south. Exit 43. No trucks over 5 tons can use exit 43. But on 95, they have at least (3) signs notifying you of this, thus you have zero excuse for violating the rule.

And frankly - I think the road can be lowered by 6" under the bridge. That bridge is planted at least 4' below grade, at least. Lowering by 6" will not cause the bridge to shift or slide, the soil has structural characteristics.

Not sure if I answered your question. Width and length have nothing to do with the stuck trucks :)

KellyAlzan

Correction: 95 north. Not "95 south"

Also, pardon my typos. Using a smart phone.

stevemckay

Kelly - I get what you're saying but I do think the length/width signage is relevant. Here's why. As it was described to me, SHA used that approach to the new signage because they would apply to BOTH over height trucks and lower trucks/trailers that would also pose a problem on the two 90 degree turns. Also, if you're wider than 102" than you are also too wide for the narrow lanes going under the bridge. So I think they were trying to cast a net large enough to snag both trucks that are too high for the bridge, and those that can't safely drive to or through the bridge. My question still is whether there are trucks that are smaller than the 102"/48' restriction, but still over the height. For those trucks, the newer signs aren't sufficient but are those trucks able to turn around a bit easier than say a full-size tractor trailer.

lobo4109

Bet you would one have to hand out one of those $10,000.00 fines. The end,

KellyAlzan

Unclear what you're sayin.

The fines are after the fact. Fine or mo fine, once a driver damages their trailer, they ain't doin it again.

For the fines to deter high trucks , there must be turn around a to accompany the fines.

Right now the signs ate deficiently placed. Had they be adequately placed - the bulk of the stuck trucks would never have occurred. A majority of the stuck trucks were northbound on 75, which is what my video focuses on

KellyAlzan

Yes people THERE ARE SIGNS REGARDING HEIGHT. They are placed at points with no turn around no pull off spots.

Therefore the signage is DEFICIENT.

My YouTube video and captions in the video are clear in depicting this. It's not just a phone video. See links below

Fredmd21704

that is a lie, there are signs warning the miles away, 1 sign is at 355/75, with plenty of places to turn around prior.

stevemckay

Hello KellyAlzan - For the record, I haven't watched your video because I live here and drive the road - so I do think I can comment. Also, I took most of the photos and created the poster in the link on the RALE page. So, I'm pretty clear on what signs are where. There are basically three types of signs: (1) signs warning about the bridge height, (2) signs warning against trucks exceeding a length and width, and (3) sign(s) telling drivers they can't get to Intercoastal Drive on MD75 south of the bridge. The height signs speak for themselves. The length/width signs boil down to two cases - if you're that big, you're a tractor-trailer and are too tall, or you're lower but are still too long & wide to navigate the two 90 degree turns without making a hazard for vehicles in the other lane.

Now, I have no problem saying that some of the signs can be better. No argument there. My main point, however, is that once you make a restriction - with good signage - then you need a penalty for those that violate the restriction. The $500 fine isn't enough, in my opinion. Now, realistically, it doesn't look like the $10,000 fine is going to fly, but hopefully we can get something done to make the fine higher.

KellyAlzan

You need to watch the video. And read the captions in the video.

You have never ever driven a truck, so you're one that needs to see the video.

The time you shout into your above response is time you should have spent reviewing the video.

It's compelling

stevemckay

I've now watched your video, but again, it's nothing I didn't know already. Btw - I don't need to have driven a truck to know a problem when I see it. We can have better signs, but there still needs to be a penalty for violating the restrictions.

KellyAlzan

Steve - the state first needs to provide the trucks with an alternative to violating restrictions.

it's like entrapment. Deficient signage. No turn around no pull off. Therefor - the truckers are not intentionally violating any laws. The state is actually fostering the violation.

Fredmd21704

why is every time you come up n signs, they are blurry, their are signs as far away as 355 / 75 warning of the height restriction. I drive these roads everyday, not just once to make a video. again your video proved nothing.

KellyAlzan

The YouTube video (see link below) that I made of Rt 75 is worth a thousand words. If you haven't seen the video, then you have no place commenting.

Fredmd21704

actually they are right, and your video is one 4 minute blurry mess. Signs on both sides, signs as far away as 355 and 75. I don't care if their is no turn around, because they have enough warning. The problem is, they follow GPS's and don't read signs any longer.
I applaud for the blurry video, it proved that you have nothing better to do.

KellyAlzan

This is not a stupid truck driver problem. This is a state highway engineering problem. The video below shows deficient sign postage.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=L71NgmfaeoA

KellyAlzan

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=L71NgmfaeoA

Fredmd21704

thank you for the video to send to the police to show that you are using a hand held device while driving. Nice Job. I guess you too, ignore the law. and in your own video, you proved that the signs are miles away warning truck drivers. (355/75) which discredits all of your own arguments.

Tigerzord

I wish I could post our graphic right here in the comment thread. Instead, if you'll go to our page at this link, you'll see the poster that we prepared for the hearings in Annapolis. There are warning signs all over the area, on all the roads leading toward the CSX bridge. We have enough signs. What we need is more teeth behind the restrictions that are currently in place. After attending the hearing yesterday, I'm not hopeful that the $10,000 fine will make it out of Committee but perhaps we can get something done to raise the fine over the current $500.

http://www.ralemonrovia.com/updates.html

KellyAlzan

You are DEAD WRONG
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=L71NgmfaeoA

Fredmd21704

actually they are right, and your video is one 4 minute blurry mess. Signs on both sides, signs as far away as 355 and 75. I don't care if their is no turn around, because they have enough warning. The problem is, they follow GPS's and don't read signs any longer.
I applaud for the blurry video, it proved that you have nothing better to do.

gary4books

There really is no substitute for fixing the bridge. Everything else is a "half measure" and flawed.

bmclearen

Why have a maximum fine of $10K, why not have a standard fine of $10K instead. I'll bet that if the driver of the trailers that hit the bridge lost their drivers license, it would stop them for sure.

PGFD24

For all the money the state has spent in signs and turnarounds they could have lowered the road under the bridge and fix the problem. Just like they did in Adamstown with the RR crossing..

gary4books

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

stevemckay

They've looked into that. Lowering the risks destablizing the bridge, will create drainage issues, and would be VERY expensive. Plus, lowering the road - if it were possible - wouldn't change the fact that a full-size tractor trailer would pose a hazard to any other vehicle in the other lane. With two 90-degree turns in short succession on the southside of the bridge, those large trucks can't maintain their lanes. They cross over. A truck approaching the bridge from the south would have to take the turn wide, crossing into the opposing lane. That's not a solution.

Tanstaafl

Good Idea!

Jleftwich

Last we heard, Councilmembers Shreve and Chemlik offered to work with GPS companies to recode their software to display the low-height bridge on drivers' units. Whatever came of that?

pilotguy299

Way too high of a fine. The signs leading up to the bridge really aren't really sufficient.

lewisantq

Agree completely. Increasing the fine is not a solution to this infrastructure deficiency.

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