This news story originally provided by
February 8, 2005
Chesapeake residents turn out for meeting on coal truck traffic
By Rick Steelhammer
Congressional action to exempt part of the West Virginia Turnpike
from federal weight limits and a sub-zero tolerance policy to halt
violations by coal truck operators surfaced Monday as possible ways
to deal with Chesapeakes coal truck problems.
Nearly 100 townspeople crammed into Chesapeake City Hall on
Monday night to discuss ways to solve the Kanawha River communitys
problems with about 400 coal trucks that travel through town each
day to a pair of barge terminals at either end of town. The public
meeting on the towns coal truck woes preceded a City Council
Five years ago, after the town bought a set of scales and began
enforcing a 65,000 pound weight on W.Va. 61, truckers took the hint
and bypassed the town by traveling the Turnpike and getting to the
terminals without entering the town.
But that changed last year, when the state Legislature designated
a network of highways to be used by coal haulers carrying loads up
to 126,000 pounds. Chesapeakes segment of W.Va. 61 was included in
the network, but the West Virginia Turnpike, where federal
regulations forbid loads of more than 80,000 pounds, was not.
All those trucks coming through town create a lot of dust and
dirt, said Mayor Damron Bradshaw. The washers at the tipples at
either end of town cause a slurry to go onto the road, and you cant
avoid it if youre driving here.
Houses and cars a block and a half away from MacCorkle get
dirty. ... We dont want to impede an industry or cause anyone to
lose a job, but we want to find a way to keep those trucks out of
We just remodeled our home, said Chesapeake resident Cornelius
Burnette. Within two days, the new windows and siding were filthy.
We have to sweep the sidewalk every couple of days. The whole town
should file for black lung.
Longtime resident Joe Jarrell said that since there are no coal
mines in Chesapeake, and even the two tipples lie outside the city
limits, all our problems are coming from outside sources. They want
to rub our noses in their dirt, but I think its time to stand up
Other residents complained about coal truckers violating the
towns speed limit, and halting traffic for extended periods of time
to allow other haulers to enter and exit coal terminal access roads.
Ted Berry, a 45-year veteran coal trucker and director of a state
coal haulers group, said W.Va. 61 provides the only legal route off
Corridor G for coal trucked from the coalfields of Mingo and Logan
counties to reach barge terminals on the Kanawha River.
Should load limits be raised on the Turnpike, wed have no
problem moving back up there, he said.
But Assistant Highways Commissioner Norm Roush said it would take
an act of Congress, and the already planned upgrading of a pair of
bridges, to allow heavier loads on the Turnpike.
I dont disagree that the Turnpike would be better for carrying
coal past Chesapeake to the Kanawha River terminals, Roush said.
Well help you if we can.
Roush said the state of New Hampshire might be successful in
getting weight limits on its segment of Interstate 94 raised to
match those of neighboring Maine and Massachusetts, which could set
Tom Hamm, aide to Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said the
congresswoman is looking into a resolution that would let the
federal Department of Transportation change the weight limit on a
designated stretch of the Turnpike.
Delegate Danny Wells, D-Kanawha, said he would research possible
legislative remedies. Its ridiculous that anyone has to live under
the situation that was described here tonight, he said.
You tell us what you want, and well put an end to this,
pledged Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper.
Carper said after the meeting that one solution might be a
sub-zero tolerance policy, in which Kanawha County Sheriffs
deputies would patrol Chesapeake to ticket and fine trucks found to
be speeding, overweight or spreading dust or slurry.
Were not going to find the solution to everything tonight,
said Bradshaw. But I think we will get this problem taken care of,
To contact staff writer Rick Steelhammer, use e-mail or call