ROLLING THROUGH Some big trucks ignoring Washington detour

Published 12:05 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Despite clearly marked detours and barricades, big trucks continue to roll across a buckled section of South Washington street.

Of the 400 vehicles that crossed the damaged portion of the north-south corridor between Interstate 20 and downtown between 12:35 and 1:20 p.m. Tuesday, five tractor-trailer rigs violated an emergency change in city truck route laws. Five other trucks might have been in violation depending on the weight of their loads.

The City of Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen declared a state of emergency Feb. 29 to order all vehicles weighing more than 26,001 pounds to be rerouted after city workers who were repairing a water leak discovered the road had buckled near the Washington Street bridge that sits atop a tunnel for Kansas City Southern Railway freight trains traveling east and west across the Old Mississippi River Bridge.

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The Washington Street near Clark Street bridge had been reopened on Feb. 13 after being closed and all traffic rerouted for three years.

The current ban on heavy vehicles includes all tractor-trailer rigs, log trucks, school buses and large emergency vehicles. Heavy traffic is rerouted along U.S. 61 North to the interstate.

Emergency vehicles responding to calls for assistance are exempted from the rerouting, police Lt. Jackie Johnson said.

City police are not allowed to cite drivers for having overweight trucks, but they can issue tickets for not following the truck route, Johnson said.

“They were clearly in violation of being off the truck route, and that’s a citation that we write,” Johnson said Tuesday.

He said police plan to escalate enforcement near Washington and Clark streets.

“We’re going to have to sit and just wait until we’ve sent our message. We’ve done this operation before,” Johnson said. “We can’t just patrol though because you actually have to see them come through.”

Kim Ford, who lives on Hanley Street, said she’s seen a number of large vehicles cross the buckled portion of the street.

“I can see Washington Street from my house and I can see all the 18-wheelers and the fire trucks going by,” she said.

Ford said most recently she saw dump trucks loaded with gravel passing through the barricades and is worried that an extra heavy load might cause major damage to the street.

“We just got this bridge fixed, come on now,” she said. “We’ve got to give them time to get this road fixed so they don’t have to shut us down.”