Police buy mobile weigh station Grant from landfill funds roving scales

September 24, 1996|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

County police have a weigh station on wheels and are looking for overweight commercial trucks in South County.

The department's new Ford cargo van, equipped with six scales, cones, creepers and tools for officers to weigh and inspect commercial trucks, is designed to ease the minds of South County residents concerned about overweight and poorly maintained trucks rumbling down two-lane rural roads in their communities.

It was purchased with a grant from the Lothian commercial rubble landfill that neighbors have complained about for years.

PST Rubble Landfill on Bayard Road annually gives grants to police and surrounding neighborhood organizations as part of its operating agreement with the county.

A $60,600 grant from PST to the police department paid for the van, more than $20,000 worth of equipment, and $13,000 in overtime for officers. The rest of the money will buy more equipment and pay for maintenance costs.

Police are to get an additional $30,240 from the landfill company TC this year to pay officers' overtime and upkeep expenses for the van, budget office officials said.

"We're delighted," said Tim Freeman, past president of the South County Civic Association. "That purchase is something we've wanted for over a year."

The trucks are a particular concern to Freeman and landfill neighbors. They can quickly destroy roads and pose a hazard because their weight hinders their ability to stop quickly, Freeman said.

He recalled accidents in which trucks overturned while carrying allowable amounts of weight when debris in the bed shifted. He also said truckers have complained that they sometimes go by school buses picking up or dropping off children because they didn't have enough warning to stop.

"You can't stop on a dime," Freeman said. "If they can't stop for school buses, they sure can't stop for a car."

Cpl. Dave Murray, who spearheaded the campaign to get the van, schedules regular inspections at U.S. 50 and Route 424, and officers volunteer to work overtime to do them, he said.

But now he can set up just about anywhere, giving police an advantage.

There are only 14 weigh stations in Maryland, most of them on the highways that truckers normally travel. Anne Arundel County has only one weigh station, which is located at the Bay Bridge.

Truckers coming to Anne Arundel can bypass stations in neighboring counties by using Solomons Island Road, Sands Road, or Central Avenue, Murray said. But county police can now go to any of those roads and set up weigh stations there as well.

The van also saves officers time. A month ago, an officer operating in South County who pulled over an overweight truck would have called for scales from state police in Upper Marlboro and would have waited nearly an hour for a trooper to arrive.

Now an officer can call for the van, which will be housed at police headquarters in Millersville.

"Instead of keeping an officer there for close to an hour, we can have it there in 20 minutes," Murray said.

A mini-office in the van is equipped with a desk, file cabinet, and laptop computer where police can enter information or look up a driver's record.

Police have used the van only once since they finished equipping it three weeks ago. In the four-hour period, police inspected three trucks and found one rubble trailer carrying a load 2,400 pounds over its maximum capacity of 80,000 pounds, Murray said.

The driver of the truck, who was from New Jersey, was fined $195.

Pub Date: 9/24/96

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