The City of Odessa is preparing to ramp up enforcement of a new truck routes ordinance aimed at curbing most semi-truck traffic within the city limits at a time when police and transportation officials report a surge in such traffic along 42nd Street.
The ordinance, approved last summer, effectively eliminates local semi-truck routes in the city by restricting semis to Interstate 20 and Loop 338. Trucks with a delivery in the city limits are required to use the shortest route.
And drivers who violate the ordinance could be cited and fined up to $2,000. On Tuesday, the Odessa City Council was expected to approve an agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation to install and maintain signs notifying drivers of the new rules.
City officials, who say the through traffic is dangerous, noisy and hard on city roads, described the agreement with TxDOT as one of the final steps in establishing the truck routes, with a target completion date for the installations by March 1. The agreement calls for the city to pay $21,510 for the large truck route signs, which TxDOT would install and maintain.
Meanwhile, police and transportation officials say the Permian Basin sand mining boom is bringing a surge of heavy truck traffic through 42nd Street as drivers traveling east on Highway 302 seek a shortcut or a break inside the city.
“If there’s a reason for them not to come in here, then they won’t,” said District 4 Councilman Mike Gardner, who supports the greater restrictions and manages an oilfield trucking company. “That settles a lot of your problems.”
Before the new ordinance, the city required trucks driving through the city to travel on West County Road, 42nd Street, Business 20, Grandview Avenue, parts of Andrews Highway and the portion of Kermit Highway between West County Road and the loop.
Drivers hauling hazardous material were already restricted to the loop and the interstate.
Gardner said he also wants the city to act on a proposal by Odessa Police Chief Mike Gerke to train a couple officers in enforcement of heavy truck laws such as weight requirements in an effort to reduce hazards to drivers and damage to city roadways.
Gerke and Gardner have pointed to an uptick in sand truck traffic. In the past year, nearly two dozen sand mine projects were announced in West Texas by companies seeking to meet a surge in demand for cheaper frac sand. But only few had opened by the end of December, including Hi-Crush in Winkler County, with several more expected to begin shipping sand in the early months of 2018.
“You can see them up and down 42nd Street,” said District 2 Councilman Dewey Bryant, whose bank office is on the thoroughfare. “And it’s going to get worse.”