The ordinance regulating truck traffic through Arkansas City was brought under fire Tuesday during a city commission meeting.
Jim Sybrant, owner of Ark City Warehouse on West Madison Avenue, brought his concerns and asked the commission to consider several revisions.
Sybrant, who operates a trucking firm, said he was informed by a local officer that on Wednesday officers would be stopping all trucks going through Arkansas City. He said the move was intended to encourage drivers to make use of the U.S. 77 Bypass instead of entering the city.
“I called the chief and asked him what was going on,” he said. “He said it was well within the city’s ordinances and they would stop trucks using Summit Street.”
Sybrant said he helped to draft the ordinance more than 10 years ago. He said it took into consideration the fact that truckers needed to pick up and deliver goods, and also make use of services such as fuel vendors, restaurants, hotels or other service facilities.
“He basically told me that was not the way the ordinance read, and they were going to enforce the code,” Sybrant said.
Sybrant said he was also told that local trucks do not have the right to go through town. Quoting the city code, he said there were exceptions written into that ordinance.
“The provision of this article shall not apply to any truck or commercial vehicle while engaging in serving a residence or commercial establishment, nor to any such truck or vehicle owned by person, persons, firms, memberships, partnerships or members of a partnership that has such vehicles station with residents or a commercial establishment,” the code reads.
Sybrant said the original intent was to draft an ordinance that would guide trucks through town. He said while the purpose was to restrict trucks that were not making local deliveries, truck drivers were expected to come in and use local services.
“Our fuel stations want them, our tire shops want them,” he said. “If we try to keep them out, we hurt our own businesses and we lose tax.”
Sybrant said a lack of good signage is also a problem. He said a sign at Eighth Street and Madison Avenue that directs truckers to the bypass was one example. For those coming from the west and heading east on Madison Avenue, the driver’s GPS will instruct them to travel up Eighth Street to get to Creekstone.
“They miss the sign because they are turning left before they get to it,” he said. “It needs to be 100 feet back so the driver will see it.”
Sybrant said more informative signs telling drivers they must use the bypass are also needed. He said signs that are more self-explanatory would also help drivers to avoid problems.
Sybrant said that some drivers coming from the south will often miss the bypass sign and have no choice but to go on through town. He said a larger and more informative sign at that intersection would solve the problem.
“They’re already stopped at a stoplight. When they see that big bypass sign, I think they’ll turn right,” he said.
For drivers coming from the west on Madison Avenue, Sybrant said it would be convenient for them to continue east to reach the bypass. He said the drivers won’t take that route, because of signage stating the railroad overpass doesn’t have sufficient clearance. He said that is simply not true.
“That overpass is 14 feet, 3 inches at its lowest point,“ he said “I proved that 15 years ago.”
Sybrant said the sign was put up to discourage trucks from going under the overpass. He has seen trucks and motorhomes stop, try to back up and turn around, then travel either north or south through residential areas on C Street.
The sign is an out-and-out lie,” he said.
Sybrant said when the sign was installed, it was due to the thought that the large trucks would tear up the street. He said the number of square inches of tire a truck has on the highway, divided by the 80,000 pounds they are allowed to carry is only half as much as the average car.
“The only time a semi will tear up asphalt is when they are turning a tight corner.” he said. “Let them go under the overpass and you won’t hurt a thing.”
Sybrant said when the Madison Avenue bridge reopens, the best way to get trucks out of town is to get them to the bypass. He said correcting the sign so drivers would not be afraid to use that route would make that easier for the drivers.
Commissioner Kanyon Gingher said she had discussed the problem with the city manager several months ago after watching three motorhomes struggle.
“They stopped and tried to figure out how to back up and turn around,” she said. “Somebody came through and said the bridge was 14 feet tall and they could go.”
She said he had a hard time convincing the drivers that they could pass through safely.
Mayor Jay Warren agreed that the city needed to schedule some time to look specifically at the truck ordinance and consider possible revisions.
“Let’s plan on using the next work session to go over it and take a look at it,” he said.