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Gravel pit trucks violate state laws

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Trucking McHenry County, Illinois

Gravel pit trucks violate state laws

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
February 6, 2011

At last week's Woodstock City Council meeting on the Merryman Aggregates gravel pit, reference was made to numerous traffic law violations by trucks leaving the mining site. Trucks exit the pit onto Lily Pond Road at the east end of the project.

All of them now must go south to U.S. 14, because the Woodstock City Council decided Thursday night to prohibit northbound gravel-hauler traffic on Lily Pond Road, which dead-ends at McConnell Road. This new Condition on the Special Use Permit will likely be ignored by drivers, many or most of whom are probably independent contractors. Once they leave the property, does Merryman really have any control over them?

Local residents have complained about the noise of trucks early in the morning before opening hours of the pit. They have also complained about dust, debris dropped from or falling off trucks on Lily Pond Road, and untarped loads. It was stated at the meeting that Merryman has erected signs, warning drivers to tarp their loads. And if they don't?

But the major traffic problem is at the intersection of U.S. 14 and Lily Pond Road.

There is no doubt that loaded, heavy, slow-moving, gravel-hauling trucks have a hard time pulling out into U.S. 14, whether the drivers intend to turn right or left. A line of southbound trucks (and cars) builds up behind the first truck at the stop sign.

The drivers have figured this one out. A westbound truck driver, heading to the pit, will stop (unnecessarily and illegally) in the westbound traffic lane and wait while the southbound driver watches for an opening in eastbound traffic. An eastbound gravel truck driver will then stop and block eastbound traffic.

Then a whole line of gravel trucks will turn out of Lily Pond Road, convoy-style, while U.S. 14 traffic is stopped (illegally blocked by the two trucks). I have witnessed this maneuver.

The westbound truck remains stopped, so that the eastbound truck driver can make his left turn, to go north on Lily Pond Road and enter the pit. And then the westbound driver turns right, proceeds to the pit entrance and turns in.

The Beat 24 car of the Woodstock Police Department can't spend its day there, waiting for violations. Plus, the first driver to spot it will alert all the others. What a perfect place for photo enforcement!

However, the Woodstock Police Department, McHenry County Sheriff's Department and Illinois Secretary of State (SOS) Police could put their heads together and figure out an enforcement plan. Use the police motorcycles of the City and of the County in good weather. Use unmarked cars. Get the SOS Police there. They are the truck-enforcement agency of the State Police.

Or maybe some local vigilantes will figure it out. We can arm ourselves with videocameras, still cameras with long lenses, tape recorders and notepads. We will be able to identify drivers and take photos of their faces. We'll record truck identification. Then we can ask for the Woodstock Police Department and the McHenry County Sheriff's Department to issue tickets, and we can go to court to act as witnesses for the prosecution.

Citizens should not have to assume the responsibility for enforcement of traffic laws. But we shall, if the police aren't effective.

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