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New law provides tool for crackdown on illegal truck traffic

A new state law could help DelDOT enforce restrictions on truck traffic in residential areas.

Gov. John Carney signed a billThursday allowing state agencies to install height-monitoring devices on roads that truck drivers use as illegal shortcuts. 

Deputy Secretary at DelDOT Nicole Majeski says the law gives the agency a powerful new tool.

“As the Department of Transportation, we can put up as many truck restriction signs as we can, but it’s that enforcement piece that actually enables us to prevent the trucks from ultimately being on roadways then impacting the quality of life for those that are living there,” she said. 

State officials say residents of Lambson Lane in New Castle have long complained of trucks using the residential part of the road as a shortcut to industrial facilities— including some related to the Port of Wilmington— despite signs that prohibit it.

“This bill helps the Route 9 corridor, but more specifically helps improve the quality of life for residents in Simons Gardens and Mayview Manor and Holloway Terrace,” said State Sen. Darius Brown, who sponsored the bill. “We want to make sure that the high amount of truck traffic that we have in this community continues to be reduced.”

New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer says the new height monitors will help offset what he calls the “dangers” of anticipated port expansion under last year’s operating deal.

“As that Port volume increases, as those jobs are created, that may mean more trucks coming out of that Port,” said Meyer. “I really appreciate the Governor, Sen. Brown, Rep. Cooke and of course Councilman Street taking leadership in recognizing jobs are really important, but what we’re really about is families and communities. And making sure, first and foremost, we use that same technology to protect families and communities. And that's what that Senate Bill 131 does.

Under the law, stationary or mobile technology would monitor the height of passing vehicles, photograph those that violate restrictions, and ticket the drivers or companies operating them. Majeski says citations issued will be reviewed by law enforcement.

State officials say first-time offenses receive warnings, and subsequent violations face penalties of $250 and then $500 per ticket. 

DelDOT’s Majeski says the agency will use a “data-driven” approach to identify which roads should get monitors.

“On roads like Lambson where you have a truck restriction already in place, those are going to be the areas that we’re going to be looking for.” She adds DelDOT will also look into putting monitors on roads where trucks routinely hit too-short overpasses despite signs.  

Majeski says she expects the monitors to be deployed in about a year. 

Lambson Lane is not the only residential area of the Route 9 corridor impacted by truck traffic. 

DelDOT is authorized and encouraged in this year’s bond bill to buy out ten residential parcels along Pyles Lane, where homeowners also complain about heavy truck traffic. Pyles Lane runs roughly parallel to Lambson Lane, on the other side of the Delaware River Industrial Park. Both streets connect to the industrial Pigeon Point Road, which connects to Terminal Avenue, where the Port of Wilmington is located. 

The law also allows counties and municipalities to install vehicle height monitoring systems after adopting relevant ordinances


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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