The Commerce Downtown Development Authority is solidly in favor of the city banning through trucks on Broad and Elm streets.
Meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 23, the DDA endorsed the concept being floated by the city council to force 18-wheelers to use the U.S. 441 bypass to get around the downtown. Local deliveries or pickups by the big rigs would still be allowed.
City manager Pete Pyrzenski asked the DDA for its view on a proposal that would have the city take over operation and maintenance of Hwy. 98, which would also give it the authority to prohibit through trucks.
Member Johnny Eubanks, who also represents Ward 5 on the city council, spoke of a Facebook comment from an individual who “could not come downtown and shop because this person was afraid of (when backing out of parking spaces) trucks.” Eubanks also noted the smell from the chicken trucks and then pointed out the availability of the bypass.
Members also expressed concerns over trucks that exceed the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit in the downtown and the challenge of backing out of the parking spaces along Broad and Elm streets.
“To me, the big thing is the smell,” Bulls commented. She also suggested that the extra distance truckers would travel on the bypass would be mitigated by the reduction in traffic on the bypass.
Member Jim Davis suggested that better enforcement of the speed limit would help improve the situation.
“That’s the frustration,” Pyrzenski responded, complaining that the Commerce Police Department cannot regulate trucks except for “flagrant” violations. “We don’t have any regulatory grip on that,” he said.
“I’ve heard over and over again people are scared to back out,” commented member Claudine Smith, who also observed, “if the light is green at Jay’s (at Central Avenue), they’re going to beat that traffic light.”
Chairman Mark McCannon asked Pyrzenski to pass the DDA’s consensus along to the city council.