Despite reaching a consensus on Jan. 21 to eliminate all truck routes within the city of Gardner, council members only mothballed one route, 167th Street, during a Feb. 3 meeting.
Public works director Brian Faust offered two different options to city council members during the meeting. One proposal would eliminate all routes but U.S. 56 Highway, or Main Street. The proposal would get rid of all other current routes, including Center Street or Gardner Road, Moonlight Road, 167th Street, and Madison Road. A second proposal would close 167th Street and Gardner Road north of Main Street to trucks.
Council member Larry Fotovich asked why city staff would bring forward an alternate plan after council had reached a consensus to close almost all roads to through truck traffic.
“What happened between the time we directed staff that now we have a new (proposal) here?” Fotvich asked. “We decided this was unanimous.”
Faust said there was additional information council members should consider. Specifically, he said eliminating 175th Street north of Interstate 35 as a truck route would not allow trucks leaving the Coleman Warehouse and potential future industrial developments there, to easily access 169 Highway. He also said limiting truck traffic may hurt businesses, like the Casey’s on Gardner Road.
Rob Laquet owns the Shell Station at Gardner Road and 191st Street.
“My concern is trucks not being able to get to my site,” Laquet told council members during public comment segment of the meeting.
Laquet said when the Shell Station was constructed 10 or 11 years ago, it was built to with thick asphalt and diesel pumps to accommodate truck traffic.
“If trucks can no longer come to my store, it will be very hard on my business,” he said.
Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce President Steve Devore also addressed the council. He said eliminating all truck routes would give the impression that Gardner is no longer open for business.
“We need more business to locate in Gardner. If you pass new truck routes as proposed, you’re saying you don’t want trucks in this town,” Devore said.
Devore warned that it would make it so UPS and postal trucks could not easily make deliveries in town. However, Fotovich said that was false.
Trucks of all sizes are allowed on any street when they are making local deliveries.
“A UPS driver has a reason for being in the city,” Fotovich said.
Council member Kristina Harrison initially agreed that the council should eliminate all routes except the state highway, or U.S. 56. She said following the work session on truck traffic, she spoke with business owners and residents. She also sat at Veteran’s Park on Gardner Road and watched traffic. She said no one she spoke to was concerned about truck traffic.
Fotovich said it’s only a matter of time until there is an accident involving a truck to make people concerned about the semi-truck traffic in town.
“Let’s let the entire city feel the effects of truck traffic and it will reach critical mass and you will hear about it,” Fotovich said.
Council members Fotovich and Steve Shute voted against keeping all existing routes with the exception of 167th Street and north of Main Street on Center Street as truck routes. The pair was overruled by council members Harrison, Heath Freeman, and Tory Roberts who voted to eliminate the two routes while keeping the rest.