Armstrong acts to correct traffic issue
BEVERLY — It was nothing less than 30 years of experience that helped Chicago resident Frank Snell maneuver his way out of a tough predicament recently in Beverly.
Snell — like dozens of tractor-trailer truck drivers before him — made the fateful turn onto Files Creek Road at the center of town last week when his Global Positioning System told him that was the way to Armstrong/Bruce Hardwoods.
“I was lucky to get out of there,” Snell said of the Randolph County road that quickly winds into a tight S-curve near the town’s post office, trapping most 18-wheelers and requiring them to manage with the help of good Samaritans nearly one-quarter of a mile in reverse or to turn around in tight conditions to again reach southbound U.S. 219.
A driver for ES Express Unlimited Carrier, Snell didn’t need to utilize his Commercial Driver License skills in backing up, however, as he expertly worked his rig through the curve without damaging the guardrail already mangled by less-experienced operators. Snow on the ground presented a challenge for Snell, though, in finding an adequate turn-around farther east on Files Creek Road.
“We need better directions,” Snell insisted about the incorrect information dispensed by dispatch brokers.
“If not that, then a warning sign somewhere in town is needed so the situation doesn’t happen in the first place,” he added about the precarious nature of avoiding pedestrians, landscaping and other vehicles while getting the misguided semis back on track.
Jeff Arbogast, shipping manager at Armstrong, notified local officials once alerted to the long-running situation, spearheading proactive measures to alleviate the dilemma that has seen the large rigs using residents’ yards along the route as a turn-around area.
“We deeply regret that this situation has been ongoing,” Arbogast said of the confused truckers that are headed for the wood products plant one mile south of Beverly’s business district.
“I have talked to a lot of people and found out that through the mapping system using the input, control, output, and mechanisms, an address for Armstrong World Industries citing Seneca Trail actually turns onto Files Creek,” he said.
In communications with Beverly Mayor Dave Harper, Randolph County Development Authority Executive Director Robbie Morris, John Monk, acting director, West Virginia Department of Highways and Cindy Hart, director of the Randolph County 911 Center,
Arbogast insists directional signage in both English and Spanish — along with a well-publicized 911 address — will both be included in corrective measures to be implemented as soon as possible.
“This can all get confusing,” Hart said of the physical 911 address that has been assigned to the Armstrong facility all along and should be what brokers use in dispatching their large trucks.
“It’s up to the different United State Postal Service branches to get people to come in and register their 911 address,” she said. “The post office in their community needs to collect the 911 addresses from everyone.”
Hart invites all interested to visit the 911 Center at 30 Randolph Ave. and view the outcome of the $750,000 initiative completed over 10 years ago that attached emergency response addresses to every site in Randolph County.
“The clarification of Armstrong’s 911 address means it will now be on their letterhead and mailbox, and it will most definitely be updated with their brokers,” Hart added about the immediate steps taken last week to alleviate the misinformed truckers unintentionally inconveniencing Beverly.
District 8 engineer, James Rossi, sees comparisons to Beverly’s lost truckers’ plight in the Leadmine area of Tucker County.
“We had to erect signs in District 5 since the problem of drivers getting disoriented was such a problem,” he said. The sign advising of Armstrong’s whereabouts and that Files Creek Road is not suitable for trucks will be located near the north end of Beverly.”
Enforcement official with the outdoor advertising section of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Adam Smith, states that a permit is required for any signage that might be installed addressing the misleading coordinates. He also said that the sign will have to be off of the right-of-way of the DOH.
Concerns that any signage erected would infringe upon the historic nature of the tiny town, Arbogast said all attempts will be made to consider design guidelines approved by Historic Beverly Preservation and Beverly ON TRAC.