Town leaders continue to restrict roads for big-rigs

POSTED: 4:16 PM Feb 21 2013   UPDATED: 9:36 PM Feb 21 2013
UNICOI, Tenn. -

The Town of Unicoi is adding restrictions on where big-rigs can drive. They created an ordinance back in 2011, but town leaders say the problem still isn't solved.

It's essentially a public safety issue -- tractor trailers have gotten stuck on the middle of railroad tracks and homeowners aren't able to get out of their driveway. Town leaders say they're continuing to add road restrictions and 18-wheelers that don't follow the rules will have to pay up.

The shortest route isn't always the quickest. Time after time Carl Jones, co-owner of Jones and Church Farms, runs into the same problem when truck drivers stop to pick up shipments of tomatoes. "They come in by GPS and we tell them to forget the GPS, to call us when they get to Exit 32 and we'll guide them in," said Jones.

That's because these tractor-trailers wind up getting stuck on the area's narrow, winding roads, which raises safety concerns for the entire community.

Unicoi town leaders have now made restrictions on where tractor trailers can drive. Town Mayor Johnny Lynch says putting up warning signs on railroad crossings and residential roads has been somewhat helpful. "We still had the problem. So we decided we better come up with an ordinance," he said.

That means drivers who get stuck or cause problems can be issued a $50 citation along with a court fee. Recently, town leaders have added to the list of roads off-limits. "We haven't issued any citations yet, we think this has helped a whole lot," said Mayor Lynch.

While this may be good news for homeowners, Jones says this ordinance can be unfair for drivers not familiar with the area. "They might be from New York or Miami, Florida, but I hate them to be jumped onto because their GPS led them wrong," added Jones.

Here are some of the restricted streets and roads: The newly added Powder Hollow Road, Massachusetts Avenue, Tennessee Street, parts of Marbleton Road and Tinker Road, and Zane Whitson Drive.

Mayor Lynch says this ordinance is to simply keep tractor trailers on roads designed for them.