Chairman Jeff Stonehill first mentioned in April his desire to prevent commercial trucks from using State Route 206 to get from US 301 to Route 3, and eventually to the King George Landfill or other nearby businesses. He wasn’t talking about people who have business on the road or those who live there—just drivers in search of a shortcut, using a road he believes can’t handle the traffic.
“This is a problem that I’ve been hearing for 25 years about trash trucks and tractor-trailers using that as a cut-through,” he said. “And as we all know, Dahlgren Road is just too small of a road for that.”
The narrow and windy Dahlgren Road, which has no shoulders in places and lots of blind driveways, also is the primary route for many commuters from the Fredericksburg area heading to Naval Support Facility Dahlgren, said King George Sheriff Chris Giles.
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Before the pandemic, between 10,000 and 11,000 vehicles used the road daily, said Kelly Hannon, spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation. Heavy trucks represented about 1% of the traffic, she said.
King George officials want to designate the 8-mile stretch of Route 206 from Route 3 to 301 as a “No Through-Trucks” zone. The first part of the multistep and somewhat lengthy process includes holding a public hearing to gather comments from residents. That’s planned at 6:30 pm Tuesday in the boardroom of the Revercomb Administration Center.
If the supervisors pass their resolution, the matter would go to VDOT’s Fredericksburg’s office, which would conduct its own internal review, David Beale, the Northern Neck resident engineer, told King George officials this spring.
VDOT would make its study available to the public and seek comment, then make a recommendation to the state traffic engineer, Hannon said. There would be another round of public comments and study before a recommendation is made to the VDOT commissioner.
Because Route 206 is a primary road, the issue would then go to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which oversees projects and initiatives for the state, for the final say-so, Beale said. State code says the CTB must act on any formal request within nine months, unless good cause is shown for a delay, Hannon said.
While the sheriff agrees with Stonehill, a retired King George representative and former Virginia marine police officer, with the idea of banning trucks on Route 206, he said it comes with challenges. The action would push all the truck traffic that had been using Route 206, either to State Route 205 or all the way down Route 301 to the intersection with Route 3.
Either way, the trucks eventually would pass through the King George Courthouse area, which has a half-mile stretch where it narrows from four lanes to two lanes.
“You’re putting that amount of traffic in a smaller area, it’s kind of a dangled if you do, dangled if you don’t thing,” the sheriff said. “But as far as safety wise, I feel like pushing traffic through the courthouse area is a better solution.”
Just defining what trucks would not be allowed is an issue as well, the sheriff said. If it’s done by weight, deputies can’t look at a rig and determine the tonnage, so scales probably would be required.
Then there’s the enforcement aspect. Giles wondered if deputies would have to observe truckers using the 8-mile stretch, then pull them over when they turned onto another road—in order to see for themselves the trucks were indeed through-traffic and not ones with business along the road. The charge probably would be failure to obey a highway sign, Giles said. That’s a $30 fine plus $51 in processing fees.
King George Supervisor TC Collins agreed with Stonehill that something needs to be done, as Dahlgren Road has become populated with more residential subdivisions.
Residents contacted this week had mixed feelings about the matter.
Doug Cantrell said that soon after he moved to a home off Route 206 about 12 years ago, he wondered why there were so many big trucks on the road. After being told—erroneously—that there wasn’t anything the county could do because it was a state road, he never thought any more about it.
Cantrell said he’d support the measure simply because the road is too narrow for such big rigs.
“I don’t think it saves them all that much time, to be honest,” he said about those who see the route as a shortcut. “As for the box trucks and semis, there’s really no reason for them to use it.”
Resident Dewayne Sullins had a different perspective. With fuel prices as high as they are and supply chains messed up, he’d rather support “something to ease the burden on the drivers and hopefully improve logistical for local businesses.”
“While I’m not crazy about getting stuck being a big truck moving slower than I would like to go, I don’t see an issue with leaving them alone to see the safer, straight shot down Route 206,” Sullins said.
As for trucks heading to the landfill, Waste Management, which operates the facility, encourages drivers to follow federal, state and local regulations, said company spokesperson Lisa Kardell. If through-trucks are banned on Route 206, she said her company would notify all customers and encourage them to follow the new ordinance.