BERLIN - The Berlin police commission decided at its last meeting to write a letter to the state to inquire about making Orchard Road a no through way road for trucks after residents have complained about it.
The letter writing campaign comes after Joan Veley, who is a member of the planning and zoning commission, went to the commission in July to say the number of dump trucks passing her house had gone down, but the problem persisted.
“You guys were really great because you supported us and sent a couple cruisers out to slow them down and to inquire what they were doing there, where they were going and so the traffic stopped,” Veley said at the meeting. “But for some reason, it picked up…as if they were testing the waters and then they just went full board.”
Veley first went to the commission with a neighbor in June to raise the issue.
The neighbor at that June meeting said she counted 27 trucks passing her house from as early at 7:23 a.m. to around 3 p.m.
The trucks get “loosey goosey” with their lane trying to avoid trees, Veley said.
The trucks will veer off into the other lanes and “you don’t have anywhere where to go,” Commissioner Steve Wilson said.
The neighbor said the trucks come full of soil from the turnpike, and head back toward it empty. Veley said she was so bothered by a couple of trucks that she followed one toward the turnpike and noticed the truck take a left on it before taking the Route 9 south exit.
Veley said she returned down Orchard Road before taking a left on Chamberlain Highway and saw an “active site” across from the “old Bennerups” where the soil was being dumped.
The trucks passing her house are mostly empty, the neighbor said, so they must be using another route before dumping their fill.
“Orchard Road was never meant to be a through road…it’s a town road,” Veley said. “We don’t want to get hurt, and we don’t want to see somebody else hurt.”
The issue has stemmed primarily from a business doing construction on a house at the end of Chamberlain Highway, Police Chief John Klett said last month.
He noted that the road had “s-curves” and “the old dead man’s curve” before it was straightened out. Because the business is doing work in Berlin, they are allowed to use any road in town they please, Klett added.
If the business was based in Cromwell and had work in Southington then the truck would not be able to use local roads, Klett said.
Veley asked about putting up no through way signs, but Commissioner Bob Peters said such a policy is implemented by the Office of State Traffic Administration.
In June, he said the state didn’t approve through ways often and that the trucks would need an alternate road.
Veley suggested Norton Road, which is trucks used to use, as an alternate route.
There is also concern that putting up signs that can’t be enforced may then cause confusion when signs are put up that actually have authority behind them.
Police Chief John Klett said he visited the business, asking them to use a different route and they did for a bit, Veley said.
He also put some patrols out in the area to have them talk to the business and the truck drivers.
Police Commissioner Steve Wilson also sent an email to one of the businesses.
“I think we’re doing all we can do,” said Klett. “The state is the only one who can designate a no through way road. The commission can recommend it to them.”
Veley said she spoke to Mark Kozikowski of the Planning and Zoning department to introduce the idea of inquiring from new businesses what routes trucks will use and how often they will travel.
The construction at the site on the Chamberlain Highway was nearing completion, Deputy Chief Chris Ciuci said the businesses told police.
“We don’t want (anybody getting hurt) either, that’s what we’re here to stop,” said Klett in response to Veley’s comments in June.
The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for September 19 at 6:30 p.m.
The state has received the letter and is now conducting their investigation into the matter, Police Commission Chairman Bob Peters said Tuesday. Discussion on placing the sign on the road should occur at the commission’s next meeting, he added.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or .