TRUMBULL COUNTY Residents want to put brakes on truck route

But the county doesn't have the power to keep big rigs off West Liberty.
WARREN -- A Weathersfield Township trustee and handful of West Liberty Street residents urged Trumbull County commissioners to find a way to keep huge trucks off of their crumbling street.
Eve Koches told commissioners Wednesday that she's lived on the street 32 years and is weary of the "huge semis, triple semis" that rumble through the neighborhood.
"My whole life is changed, my grandchildren's," she said. "The dirt, the dust, the windows shaking."
The county and township have tried to accommodate the residents over the past six years, without success. The most recent meeting among county officials, including Engineer John Latell, and Weathersfield was fruitless.
"That discussion did not go well, as far as the etiquette of the meeting, and the outcome was not what residents had hoped for," said township Trustee John Vogel.
He and the residents maintain that because West Liberty is a county road, it is the county's responsibility for posting signs to limit truck traffic.
There are about 50 homes on West Liberty. Residents have complained about big trucks hauling trash from freight cars under the Girard bridge to the LAS Recycling operation on Salt Spring Road.
The neighbors handed the county a petition for action last fall, saying the street is too narrow and dangerous for big vehicles.
County lacks authority
James Misocky, assistant county prosecutor, said the county's hands are tied by state statute and a court ruling. It can't prevent use of West Liberty by any commercial vehicles or restrict their times of usage.
Also, the commissioners have no authority to ban trucks on county roads, he explained. Only state lawmakers could give county commissioners that power, he said.
In July 1999, the county had posted a truck ban on the street. But the recycling center won a lawsuit against the county to remove the signs.
The Ohio Supreme Court said counties cannot ban traffic, but can place weight signs.
"Maybe the answer is, break the law one more time and put the signs up," Vogel suggested.
One remedy might be proper load limits and postings to be checked by the county engineer and enforced by local authorities. But that raised another issue for debate.
Randy Smith, deputy county engineer, said there is no load limit posted on West Liberty. It also doesn't appear prudent, he said, to spend money on core samples to determine the extent of traffic damage on the road, which can handle an 80,000-pound truck.
Smith said the county engineer in the next few months will replace some damaged pavement on the street.
The commissioners approve all load limit postings on county roads, but they cannot be placed arbitrarily, he noted.
Commissioner Daniel Polivka, board chairman, requested a meeting among the parties to "at least reach a happy medium ... as long as it's within our legal authority."
He said Vogel might have a response in two weeks.

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