ANNAPOLIS — The Frederick County delegation to the General Assembly wants truckers who fail to obey the height limit signs on Md. 75 near Monrovia to lose more than just time. They want cold, hard cash, too.
The delegation voted Friday morning to submit a bill to fine truckers up to $10,000 for failing to heed warnings to turn back from the stretch of Md. 75 between Baldwin Road and Md. 80.
Lawmakers expressed exasperation at the number of trucks that get stuck under the 12-foot-6-inch CSX rail bridge on the road.
The State Highway Administration has responded to the area more than 200 times to help trucks that are stuck underneath the bridge or need to turn around since 2010, when a Costco warehouse opened nearby.
The stuck trucks have prompted SHA to spend $300,000 installing large signs, flashing lights and sensors to deter oversized trucks from taking the route.
While that’s slowed the calls, they are far from over, said County Executive Jan Gardner, who was at the delegation’s weekly meeting in Annapolis on Friday.
“They straight up drive through all these signs, and then run into this thing,” said Sen. Michael Hough, R-District 4. “At this point, we’re at [our] wits’ end.”
Hough said he’s frequently heard from frustrated residents and businesses near the bridge who are stuck in traffic, losing time and money because of backups.
“We need to do something,” Hough said. “If one or two of those trucks get that fine, maybe the trucking companies will finally pay attention.”
Gardner said it’s a burden for the Maryland State Police to continue responding to the road for traffic control.
On the north side of the bridge, there is no good place to turn around, so truckers use driveways to turn around and tear up people’s yards, Gardner said. On the south side, it’s a bit easier to turn around, and improvements near Ed McClain Road could make it easier in the future.
Gardner said the county is working to install turnarounds for trucks that start out on the route before realizing the bridge is ahead. Costco has given $150,000, and SHA has identified a space to construct a turnaround on the north side.
It would be about a year before construction of that turnaround is complete, Gardner said.
Conversations about improvement on the south side are continuing, she said.
Seven members of the delegation supported the bill. Delegate William Folden abstained, after his questions expressed misgivings over the legislation.
The proposed legislation will be introduced to the General Assembly as a delegation bill.