Town discusses traffic on Mecklenburg Ave.

Published 8:00 am Thursday, June 30, 2022

Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors member Edward Pennington has been on a mission to eliminate large truck traffic on Mecklenburg Avenue since last year.

Pennington has addressed his concern to both the board and the Virginia Department of Transportation, seeking that something is done to resolve the issue.

Earlier this month, Pennington took his request to Victoria Town Council.

Mecklenburg Avenue runs through both the county and the town, and according to VDOT, in order to have a restricted traffic sign in place, both county supervisors and Victoria council must follow through with several requirements.

“Those trucks don’t belong on that road, and this has to stop,” Pennington said during the monthly BOS meeting on Thursday, April 14. “I have great concerns about this. I’ve been talking about this since last year, and I will continue to talk about it until something happens.”

Pennington said large trucks, in particular trash trucks going to and from the landfill, along with the speed these big vehicles travel are the issues that concern him. Speed has been such an issue on Mecklenburg Avenue that the Town of Victoria installed a driver feedback speed limit sign on April 1.

One of Pennington’s major concerns is that Mecklenburg Avenue is not a designated route for trash trucks en route to the landfill.

Currently, trash trucks going to and from the Lunenburg Landfill are advised to take one of two authorized truck routes. Mecklenburg Avenue is not on either of those routes.

“The truck drivers are disregarding the truck route, and we have to take some type of action,” Pennington said. “It is putting a strain on that road and weakening it, and that is a heavily residential area with children. Sooner or later, it is going to be a major issue.”

During the June 14 Victoria Town Council meeting, Pennington presented the members with photographs showing large trucks traveling through Mecklenburg Avenue.

The supervisor also presented the council with a petition for “No Thru Trucks Prohibited” signed by 172 people.

Victoria councilman James Elam Jr. noted that most of the signatures did not live in town or on Mecklenburg Avenue.

“We have seven streets on that side of town, and everyone has truck traffic, some more than Mecklenburg Avenue,” Elam said. “Also, Mecklenburg Avenue has sidewalks, curb and gutter and is 26-feet wide. Most other streets have no sidewalks, curb/gutter and are only 16-feet wide.”

Citizen Patricia Harper-Tunley, who is not a resident of Mecklenburg Avenue, spoke as a committee advocate for the citizens and children living on Mecklenburg Avenue.

Harper-Tunley first brought the issue to light in July 2021 when she presented a petition to county supervisors requesting a through truck restriction sign be erected.

“The trucks are moving at a high rate of speed through a fully populated residential area, noise levels have increased, and the roads are showing stress areas from the constant travel of the oversized, fully-loaded trucks,” Harper-Tunley said during that meeting. “The possibility of an accident involving loss of life or limbs is an imminent threat to this neighborhood of predominantly African American residents.”

Since that time, VDOT has conducted a traffic study that found that during a seven-day traffic count between Sept. 7-14, 2021 that 2,556 vehicles traveled on Mecklenburg Avenue. Of that, only 2% were considered commercial traffic.

According to a 2019 and 2020 traffic count by VDOT, there was less than 2% significant truck traffic on Mecklenburg Avenue.

Elam said he disagreed with the “No Thru Truck Prohibited” signs on Mecklenburg Avenue as recent monitoring does not show as much truck traffic as described by Pennington.

Victoria Mayor Allen Smith followed by noting Police Chief Joel Manning will be monitoring Mecklenburg Avenue for speeding and violations.