The devices are designed to protect property from wayward trucks.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- Bells are being installed throughout the city but not the kind that ring.
These "bells" are metal barriers intended to keep errant trucks from creeping up over curbs where their tires snap off fire hydrants, crush sidewalks and topple light posts and traffic signs.
"Some of these trucks are beating up our curbs," said Joe Julian, city service director.
In the last four months, the city has been forced twice to replace a broken fire hydrant at Ellsworth and State streets in the city's downtown.
Both cases involved a truck that was trying to make the turn there and cut too sharply, Julian said.
When the city can catch drivers who mismanage a turn and break something, it prosecutes. But it's difficult to catch the offenders in the act.
Julian chalks up the accidents to negligence and the fact that some turns in the city are hard for big trucks to negotiate.
How they work
The black cast-iron devices being installed are called bells because that's what their shape resembles.
The devices are about 3 feet tall and are bolted into a concrete base.
When a truck makes a sharp turn from one street to another and its wheels come up on a curb equipped with a bell, the device stops the tire and guides it back toward the road, Julian explained.
Some communities set reinforced pipes into the ground to block truck tires, but city administration officials decided they were unsightly, he added.
So far, bells have been installed at Ellsworth and State to protect the fire hydrant there.
Other locations are at 10th Street and Jennings Avenue, and Cleveland Street and Union Avenue.
These spots appear to have the most instances of truck damage, Julian said. The city expects to install three or four more bells but has yet to choose at which intersections they'll go, he added.
Each bell costs $300. It costs about $150 more to install the devices, a job that's handled by city workers.