BY BRYNA ZUMER, Record staff
11:39 PM EDT, September 5, 2012
By stepping up enforcement and pushing for better signage on Route 222 and 276, the main roads going into Port Deposit, Maryland State Police troopers hope they can break truck drivers' habit of going through town.
After two very high-profile accidents in less than two weeks, in which the drivers of propane and gasoline tankers crashed in Port Deposit, killing one of the drivers, Maryland State Police got involved.
During the week of Aug. 27 through Sept. 3, officers netted 42 drivers of large commercial vehicles who were violating the town's restriction on trucks weighing more than five tons.
Of those, 18 were given citations and 26 received warnings, 1st Sgt. James Russell, at the North East Barrack, said Wednesday.
Troopers plan to continue the enforcement for the foreseeable future.
"Our goal was more or less educating the commercial motor vehicles and letting them know they are not supposed to be going through there," he said, adding the signs informing them of the law are fairly small.
Maryland State Police also hopes to get larger and more illuminated signs so trucks do not end up all the way at the bottom of the hill.
"We think the word is getting out, and we have met with a positive reception from the truckers. Some just didn't know, some knew," he said, explaining: "They are just totally disregarding the traffic laws."
Disregarding those laws has proved hazardous to the drivers and created a big headache for the town, which was partly evacuated after the propane tanker crashed into Tome's Landing condominiums and had to clean up after the explosion that killed the driver of the gasoline truck.
Mayor Wayne Tome said recently he also expected enforcement of truck traffic in the area to be increased by several agencies, including the Cecil County Sheriff's Office.
Russell said the state police also wants to find a place for truckers to turn around before they get to the bottom of the hill.
That place most likely will be the Bainbridge site, which continues to sit empty.
"Our main goal right now is identify the date and time it's most heavily traveled in that area," he said, adding that "we are trying to get bigger signs and better lighting."
State police will work with the State Highway Administration to possibly get a more electronic way of counting the traffic and also work with some of the commercial trucking companies to get information about the town's policies to them.
Russell reassured the police will not give up on trying to improve safety in the area.
"We are just going to remain very visible in the Town of Port Deposit," he said, adding the main concern is the truckers and the residents driving through Port Deposit.