As in the photo above sent in this week by Don Audette, who happened to be among the drivers who had to wait while a truck driver and his partner tried to back their rig out of a bad situation, tractor-trailers have been tying up U.S. 211 in Sperryville trying to make the hairpin turn at Main Street – a turn that big orange detour signs in Madison, Warrenton, Front Royal and Culpeper warn them they won’t be able to make (or, in making, will destroy the new guardrail VDOT just put in, shown below) until the reconstruction of the U.S. 211 bridge over the Thornton River is complete — most likely sometime in late June.
Meantime, if you happen to be in Sperryville when a big rig shows up and attempts to circumvent traffic laws (not to mention the laws of physics), get out that camera and send us your photos — including one of the license number, if possible.
We’ll try to pass the photos on to the proper authorities, or at least the nearest remedial sign-reading school. If you’re a truck driver and you’re reading this, we’ll try to be understanding of how tough it’s gotten, financially and otherwise, to make a living moving freight around on 18 wheels — but you’re still a nimrod, not just for ignoring the detour signs, for speeding down Main Street in a 10,000-pound death machine and for risking lives and property to save 45 minutes.
J.D. Hartman, who owns High on the Hog BBQ right next to the difficult detour intersection, said he flagged down a tractor-trailer driver this week who’d just made the hairpin turn and was driving toward Sperryville down Main Street. Hartman told the driver to watch out because he would likely get a ticket from the deputies Sheriff Connie C. Smith says are now detailed to catch the detour-runners. The driver’s response, according to Hartman: “Well f— you, and them, too.”
Hartman said it seems truck drivers are frustrated by the situation, and recounted another instance last week when a truck bumped the telephone pole next to the damaged guard rail, which shook the power lines dramatically all the way down the street. “There’s going to be an accident right at that turn,” he said. “Mark my words.”
Main Street resident Christopher Ramey, three houses down from High on the Hog, said he and a Thornton River Grille coworker were sitting on his porch overlooking the south fork of the Thornton River at about 10:30 p.m. the other night when they heard the truck attempting to make the illegal turn onto Main Street crush the new guardrail. “We just sat there watching and listening, and after the driver made the turn, he just kept on going and didn’t seem to look back,” said Ramey, who wasn’t able to see the license plate. Ramey thinks that trucks are more confident to make that turn at night because it is unlikely that police will witness the act.
“We’re down there working traffic, catching speeders,” said Sheriff Smith. “And if we see any trucks going down Water Street or making that turn at High on the Hog – they’re not supposed to be there – so we’re enforcing that.”
Rappahannock County Administrator John McCarthy said at last Monday night’s supervisors meeting that some truck drivers headed north from Culpeper on U.S. 522 apparently have been using their GPS navigation to reroute in Woodville onto the paved but narrow Rudasill Mill Road (and from there to Rock Mills Road and U.S. 211 near the high school). McCarthy said he was concerned that at least one of the bridges on Rudasill Mill was not designed for tractor-trailer traffic.