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King George moves forward with plan to ban through trucks on Route 206

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Route 206, or Dahlgren Road, in King George on Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2022.

Despite some questions about enforcement and the alternative route drivers might take, the King George Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to adopt a plan to keep trucks from using Dahlgren Road as a cut-through.

Board Chairman Jeff Stonehill first suggested in April that the county pass a resolution designating State Route 206 as a No-Through Trucks zone. The 8-mile stretch of winding road between State Route 3 and U.S. 301 is the primary route for commuters heading to the Navy base at Dahlgren—and it’s also become more heavily populated with subdivisions over the years, King George officials said.

In addition, there’s been “exponential growth in the frequency of large trucks,” said Kimberly Heilman, who lives off Route 206 and regularly sees gasoline tankers and others carrying hazardous materials heading toward destinations not on Dahlgren Road. “There’s constantly large vehicles, flammable vehicles and there’s nothing along that road other than residences.”

Supervisor Cathy Binder was the only one of five board members to vote against sending the matter to the Virginia Department of Transportation for further review. If VDOT approves the measure, it will pass it along to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which ultimately will decide on the issue because Route 206 is a primary road, said VDOT spokesperson Kelly Hannon.

But the first step in the process is for the locality to designate an alternative and seek comments during a public hearing, which was Tuesday. County officials said the alternative for truckers would be U.S. 301 to State Route 205, then come out at Route 3 at King George Elementary School.

The Route 205 stretch runs through a rural part of the county, Binder said, but it also has several busy spots, including turnoffs for a convenience center, trailer park, elementary school and park.

Both she and resident Dee Strauss also noted the alternative would bring truckers through the courthouse area of Route 3 where Strauss said motorists currently do not stop for pedestrians who might try to cross the street. Plus, Binder said, there are businesses in that downtown area—including the county administration building—that would be impacted by more traffic.

“Our own employees at this building have trouble getting out of both entrances about 4, 4:30” and getting onto Route 3, Binder said. “I do have some concern about diverting the traffic onto roads that might not be ready for them.”

Stonehill and Supervisor T.C. Collins agreed that Route 205 has issues but is a better choice for gas tankers, tractor–trailers coming from Maryland and heading toward Fredericksburg or trash trucks on their way to the King George County Landfill on Route 3.

“Granted, 205 is not the greatest road, it’s a small, skinny road … but it’s straight,” Stonehill said. “It’s not windy and not congested with lots of houses and stuff.”

Collins and Binder both wondered about what types of trucks would be banned and how the measure would be enforced. Stonehill quoted Virginia code section 46.2-809 which says the restriction can apply to any trucks, with or without trailers, except pickup or panel trucks. Stonehill said the designation would not apply to tractor–trailer drivers who live on Route 206 or trucks with business on the road—only those using the road as a shortcut.

Stonehill also said he’d talked with Sheriff Chris Giles, who couldn’t answer questions at the meeting because he was hosting the National Night Out event. Giles told the board chairman that deputies would have to follow trucks using the road as a cut-through from one end to the other, but were prepared to do that.

James Morris, one of three residents to speak at the hearing, cited his experience as a fire department safety officer for 15 years and a former emergency vehicle operator and instructor.

“I cannot understand why any large vehicle operator would choose this road,” he said, noting that crashes will continue along the narrow roadways “but do we really want an 80,000 pound truck or an 8,000 gallon gasoline tanker involved?”

Before the pandemic, between 10,000 and 11,000 vehicles used Route 206 daily, according to VDOT, and trucks represented about 1% of the traffic. While there are accident hotspots along Dahlgren Road, the sheriff said last week there was not a problem with tractor–trailer crashes on the road.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

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