PERRY -- Big trucks and confined downtown streets are not a good mix, Perry City Council members agreed Tuesday. But they declined, for now, to pick a fight with the state over whether such trucks could be blocked from downtown streets.
Instead, Mayor Jimmy Faircloth will try to negotiate with the owner of a city lumber yard about whether its trucks could be diverted from downtown. None of the elected officials were ready to adopt City Manager Lee Gilmour’s proposals to negotiate with the Georgia Department of Transportation and local legislators about prohibiting trucks from the state highways that run through downtown. Gilmour had also said the city could seek to have the state move its routes out of downtown entirely, giving the city full control -- and responsibility -- for the roads.
“I didn’t mean to start World War III,” said Councilman Riley Hunt. “I don’t want to do anything to hurt business. I want business. We need business. Maybe I’ve opened a can of worms that needs to be closed.”
Councilman Randall Walker said some of the truck traffic is because the city has a large, thriving business near downtown that needs to get raw materials.
Faircloth said the negotiations with the state could remain on hold. He hopes to meet with the Peachtree City-based ownership of the lumber yard to see if the trucks could take a different route that doesn’t lead through downtown.
Lumber trucks are part, but not the entirety, of the problem, council members said. Walker described a truck that crossed toward incoming traffic to make a wide turn downtown while avoiding a parked car.
“He came over into the lane. Everyone just stopped, and he took over the lane and did what he needed to do,” Walker said. “It’s an issue.”
Gilmour had proposed closing some of the roads to truck traffic, including sections of Gen. Courtney Hodges Boulevard, Jernigan Street, Washington Street and Carroll Street. That traffic could be put on other roads, particularly Perry Parkway, Larry Walker Parkway, Ball Street and Main Street, which largely circle the city.
Tuesday marked the first meetings since Councilman Joe Posey resigned to take care of a sick family member. That leaves more than three years remaining in the District 2 Post 1 seat. Faircloth said a special election is set for November, with qualifying running from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 11-13. The qualifying fee is $198, and candidates must live in the district, which covers northeastern Perry.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.