Elizabethtown Police Chief Ed Cunningham gave an update on traffic problems caused by the Market Street Bridge being replaced. Many truck drivers had been using local streets rather than the official detour set up by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which uses Route 283. Cunningham said police had been repeatedly called to assist truck drivers who had gotten stuck on streets not designed for large trucks.
“We were averaging two or three calls per shift for the trucks in the side streets,” Cunningham said at the Elizabethtown Borough Council work session meeting on Thursday, Aug. 2.
In reaction, police imposed emergency restrictions banning commercial trucks from using certain side streets except for local deliveries. Cunningham said police had not gotten any calls about stuck trucks or power lines downed by trucks since the restrictions were imposed.
Cunningham said it is possible that some truck drivers have been ignoring the restrictions. He said skilled drivers can avoid getting their trucks stuck in the narrow streets. Police cannot cite a truck driver who ignores the restrictions unless an officer witnesses the violation or the driver gets stuck, he said.
The area of Market Street immediately around the bridge carrying the street over the Conoy Creek was closed on Friday, July 13, so the bridge could be replaced. It was supposed to reopen in two weeks, but several unforeseen problems caused PennDOT to set back the planned reopening until Saturday, Aug. 18.
Cunningham said police had been kept busy with helping people stuck in flooded streets. He urged people not to drive into flooded areas and especially not to drive around barricades. He noted that the fine for driving around the barricades is $250 plus court costs. If rescue efforts are needed, the fine increases to $500 plus court costs and two points are added to the person’s driver’s license, plus the municipality can recover the costs of the rescue from the driver. Cunningham said one man who was rescued had a child in the back seat of the car.
“Luckily nobody was injured in that,” Cunningham said.
He urged people to respect barriers set up for closed streets not only because of the legal penalties, but also for their own safety.
“We want to make everybody know that it is dangerous,” Cunningham said. “You could get seriously injured or killed.”