Be Realistic, People
In the past couple of weeks our publications have received letters to the editor complaining about truck traffic through the community. The complaints were also brought before Emmetsburg’s City Council on July 13.
The main complaints revolved around semi-truck traffic using Main and Broadway Streets to travel through town, Questions were raised why truck drivers do not take the bypass route around town, rather than making turns at Main and Broadway Streets. Also addressed was the speed at which trucks travel through the community on Main and Broadway Streets.
If there were hopes for a “magic answer”, good luck.
There are a lot of factors that have to be looked at in regards to these concerns. Some are valid concerns, some are a stretch and some appear to be nothing more than wishful thinking.
Let’s look at a couple of these issues.
For the sake of this discussion, the trucks being referred to are semi-tractor trailer rigs, and the majority of complaints that seem to be heard are aimed at agricultural trucks transporting grain and stover bales to our local ag facilities, POET, Project Liberty, AGP and even AgPartners elevator.
First, let’s talk about the speed of trucks. One citizen stated the speed limit through town is 25 miles per hour. The limit varies by location – 25 is through the central business district only – not the entire length of Main (Highway 18) or Broadway (Highway 4 south). By the time a truck has reached the railroad tracks, they can increase their speed, legally, as an example.
Second – the city can not forbid truck traffic on those streets for a couple of reasons. First, Highway 18 is a Federal Highway and second, Highway Four is a state highway. Trucks pay road use taxes and fuel taxes, and by law, have the same rights to use the roadways as any taxpayer driving their car, pickup, motorcycle, scooter, bicycle or even walking.
It’s true that there is a perfectly good bypass, Airport Road, that can allow traffic going south to avoid the downtown area, but one problem with the bypass is getting off Highways 18 and Four on the west side of town and onto the bypass is often easier said than done. Trucks coming from the east can use the truck route to avoid most of the community, but to get back onto Highway Four, they must use 25th Street, and that can create traffic problems as well if trucks are coming from the north down Broadway and want to turn onto 25th Street.
As far as the bypass road constructed by Palo Alto County (not the city) east of the Wild Rose, the road was designed to bring agricultural traffic from the north to the AGP and POET?facilities without going through downtown.
One big thing that some people need to remember is that we live in an agricultural community. Our major industries are agriculture-based. Like it or not, those industries employ our neighbors, friends, family members. Those people pay taxes, the businesses pay taxes, and they generate revenue in the community – how many times haven’t you seen a truck stopped at a local restaurant?
So there are times when a truck drives by and you can’t talk over it – wait a moment or two and then continue talking to your acquaintance. The world isn’t going to come to an end if you have to stop your conversation a moment.
As a sidelight, some of the noisiest vehicles I?hear are often pickup trucks that have huge exhaust stacks sticking up in the air, with the driver just flooring the truck in a low gear to make it loud, just so they can “show off”.
I’ve also seen mopeds fail to yield for pedestrians, too. Should we ban mopeds, too? What about bicyclists who run stop signs or race down sidewalks as you’re walking out of a business? Shall we ban bicycles, too?
Granted, we enjoy the peace and quiet of our community and the natural beauty of having a lake in the heart of town. But we must also remember that there is compromise in everything – give and take.
Some of the worst offenders in trucks are drivers from firms close to our community. Others are private individuals who don’t fit the description of a professional truck driver. No matter which description, it behooves any driver of a big rig to be aware of their surroundings and drive accordingly.
Law enforcement can do its part and they do, but as the old saying goes, “When the cat’s away the mice will play.” Violators of traffic laws will be ticketed, but the problems will continue. But to think that a rural community can function without truck traffic is an unobtainable wish.
Rather than create hard feelings, why not try to understand and make the best of things in a solid American community.