Ryan Burkhard was turning onto Md. 144 from Yeagertown Road while taking his daughter to school one morning in May when he noticed a truck turning onto Yeagertown that he realized was clearly too wide for the road.
After dropping off his daughter, Burkhard stopped at a grocery store in Spring Ridge.
When he returned to his home off Yeagertown Road about 25 minutes later, he got stuck behind the truck, which labored on the hilly, winding road about one-third of a mile from where Burkhard had first seen it.
On Friday, a crash involving a truck caused even more problems for Burkhard and his neighbors, some of whom have raised concerns with Frederick County officials about truck traffic on the road. The crash caused a cement tanker to gouge the road surface and damage a guardrail, and repair work closed the road between Md. 144 and Boyers Mill Road until it reopened Wednesday.
County engineers are still working with contractors to determine the cost of the repairs, said Mike Ramsburg, acting superintendent of the county’s Office of Highway Operations.
Burkhard and his neighbors have seen other instances of truck traffic causing problems on the road. In the spring, a commercial moving truck knocked down several power lines, knocking out electricity to a neighborhood for most of a day.
When Burkhard emailed the county about the issue and requested that signs be put up indicating that trucks over a certain size should not use the road, he was told that the power line was hanging too low.
The line was rehung, and it shouldn’t be a problem as long as the utility company maintained it properly, the county’s email said.
“Warning signs or truck restrictions are not needed in this case,” the email said.
Restricting trucks on local roads isn’t something the county takes lightly. The county is leery of setting an example for roads in other communities, said Jason Stitt, chief of the county’s Office of Transportation Engineering.
Still, the issue of restricting truck traffic on Yeagertown Road is being discussed, but no decision has been made, he said.
The truck problem has been exacerbated by a dredging project at Lake Linganore, with some trucks using Yeagertown Road as a route.
The county has a project in its long-term improvement plan that will widen the lower portion of the road, about 1 mile from the Md. 144 intersection, to 22 feet wide and straighten out some of the curves.
That project is scheduled to begin its study period in 2024, while another project to widen the upper portion of Yeagertown Road near Boyers Mill Road to 22 feet with 5-foot shoulders doesn’t have a starting date, Stitt said.
Even without the improvement, the Boyers Mill end of Yeagertown Road seems like a better place to bring trucks in than the Md. 144 entrance, said David Butler, who also lives off Yeagertown Road.
Butler said he thinks adding signs would be the best way to let truck drivers know about the challenges that the road presents.
Overall, the county government has been friendly and helpful in responding to complaints and suggestions, he said, but he would like to see the county do a better job of communicating with residents when there’s a problem or work is going to be done.
Meanwhile, Burkhard expects the worst whenever he encounters a large truck on the road.
“I pretty much know when I see a truck, ‘OK, I’m maybe going to see an alert [for a crash or problem] in a little bit,’” he said.