ANNAPOLIS — A $10,000 fine was not fine with members of Maryland’s House Environment and Transportation Committee.
At least not yet.
After negotiations involving Delegates Kathy Afzali, R-District 4, and William Folden, R-District 3B, and Pamela Beidle, D-Anne Arundel, chairwoman of the transportation subcommittee, the bill was pulled until at least next year. The meetings also included representatives from the Maryland State Highway Administration and the Maryland Motor Truck Association, Afzali said.
“The committee was nervous about raising the fines because they felt that it was going to start a whole piggyback effect of other communities saying they wanted to raise the fines on this road or that road,” Afzali said Tuesday.
The bill was voted down by the committee on Monday.
Lawmakers introduced the bill, steep fine and all, in response to continued delays and damage along Green Valley Road near Monrovia that occur when trucks that are too big try to squeeze through a low-slung railroad bridge.
For the next year, county lawmakers will focus efforts on other ways to improve the roadway, Afzali said. If that’s not successful, they might try for a bill again in 2017.
For now, the State Highway Administration has agreed to add more signage to the road, particularly near access points at Fingerboard Road (Md. 80) and near I-70. The agency has already spent $300,000 to install large signs, flashing lights and sensors to deter oversize trucks.
The truckers’ association will work with the nearby Costco warehouse off of Intercoastal Drive — where most of the stuck trucks are headed to or coming from — to hand out directions to drivers who come with deliveries.
Afzali said she will also try to work with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office to increase patrols during high-traffic hours, and with Costco and others to move up construction of planned turnarounds near the bridge.
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.
“If we can work with the private sector to get them involved to help with the turnaround,” Afzali said, “so that way, if all the other measures have failed, if the trucks are still going, at least they will have a way to turn around. Right now, they don’t really have a way to turn around.”
If a full-court press on those issues fails, Afzali is interested in re-introducing the bill in 2017.
“We’re going to give it all a year to see if we can solve it. And if we can’t solve it, then we come back next year,” she said.
Folden sat in on the discussions about pulling the bill, but didn’t put his support behind the measure, which was supported by the seven other members of the Frederick County delegation.
“It was going to fail because the crime didn’t fit the time,” Folden said.
He said the renewed push will be a step in the right direction.