Community members want changes on Pine Street in Spartanburg

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A group of community members in Spartanburg are working to make a heavily-traveled road safer by requesting to cut semi trucks out of the traffic equation.

Pine Street has become a popular route for truckers to get to the interstate, but a group of more than 60 people who live and work in the area are hoping that the South Carolina Department of Transportation will either force truckers to take another route or add improvements to the road to make it safer.

“I built a go-cart and would go back and forth across Pine Street,” Wade Crow said.

Wade Crow said a memory he has from his childhood would never be possible today with the amount of growth we’ve had in Spartanburg and, particularly, the increased traffic on Pine Street, near Crow’s home.

“I went to Pine Street School, my children went to Pine Street School, and my grandchildren go to Pine Street School; and I worry constantly that there’s going to be a bad wreck with an oil tanker that’s going to do horrible damage,” Crow said.

Crow told 7 News he sees more tractor-trailers in his neighborhood than he’d like and, because of this, he’s worried about the safety of other drivers and pedestrians.

And he’s not the only concerned community member.

“There are a lot of bikers. It’s amazing,” Adam Hatley said. “There are a lot of bicyclists in Spartanburg. We’re sort of a focal point for that kind of thing.”

Adam Hatley travels Pine Street every day and said he’s noticed the heavy presence of 18-wheelers, but he realizes they may not have much of a choice.

“There’s not another viable route, so these trucks have to go here,” he said. “But it boils right down to the fact that them running above and even at the speed limit, and charging the lights, does not get them to their destination any faster.”

That’s why some folks, like Wade Crow, went to Spartanburg City officials with a resolution that will be sent to the South Carolina Department of Transportation. It’s main goal is to make Pine Street a safer route.

“Having three lanes would be wonderful,” Crow said. “Re-routing them would be wonderful. Slowing them down would be the next best thing.”

While Crow said he’d like to see the trucks travel somewhere else altogether, he understands that may be difficult to swing, so he, and others, are hoping to see stricter enforcement of the speed limit.

“I’d like to see stoplights and cameras that actually can take your license tag and send you a ticket,” Crow said. “If it’s expensive enough, they’ll go around. They’ll find another way to go.”

“More monitoring and, when they do stop the trucks, they need to ticket them pretty hard, so that they don’t do it but once,” Hatley added. “If you get a $250 speeding ticket, you don’t speed in the same place again.”

7 News reached out to the South Carolina Department of Transportation to see if any future traffic studies are being discussed, but we’re still waiting to hear back.

We also reached out to the South Carolina Trucking Association and they sent us the following statement:

“Trucks are bound by which highways are most efficient and safe.
Federal highways must allow for all vehicular traffic. OR, ‘reasonable alternative’ routes must be provided.
That must factor in a lot of variables.
‘Through Trucks’ must take some route, and it needs to be safe and efficient. Also, enforcement must enforce the violations of any ‘Through Truck’ restriction, placing a burden on local law enforcement and to some extent, harassment of commercial traffic. (violations bring not only punitive fines, but also incur points on a valuable CDL license – I’d submit, too harsh for such an offense.)
More mileage on less safe or direct routes means greater accident exposure and cost. Also, more of a driver’s limited (regulated) time.
Businesses and supply chains form around certain routes.
Spartanburg likely needs a By-Pass for all vehicles, not just commercial vehicles.
What might be viewed as ‘somebody else’s truck,’ will at some point in time become that person’s. IE: we all place demands on the shipping business.
Moving traffic from one route, simply places it on another’s.”

7 News also spoke with a man who’s been a truck driver for 25 years and travels Pine Street often.

Erik Clingerman told 7 News that Pine Street has to be a truck route because of the location of businesses, supply chains, and fuel companies in our area.

He said he’s also witnessed other non-truck-driving people speeding on Pine Street, near the school, and around the time school starts and lets out.

Clingerman said traveling on Pine Street is a constant battle for truck drivers, as merging is tough and they get cut off by four-wheeled vehicles often.

Clingerman told 7 News that most truck drivers are not in a hurry. He said the only time you might catch one speeding is if they’re being paid by the load and not by the hour. He said this would usually include trash trucks, dump trucks, trucks carrying concrete, and loggers.

According to the Spartanburg Police Department, out of 1,084 crashes on South Pine Street in the last two years, only 18 involved tractor-trailers; and only 38 out of 544 crashes on North Pine Street involved tractor-trailers.

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