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Bypass: Trucks in Farragut

Farragut has an un-enforceable ordinance.

That’s the bottom line for the commercial truck traffic that seems to be bypassing the weigh station along Interstate 40/75 and making its way down Farragut streets.

“That’s actually a common occurrence, that some commercial vehicle operators attempt to do that,” said Mike Browning, with public affairs of Tennessee Department of Safety, the department in charge of Tennessee’s weigh stations.

“But there are other ways to enforce that. In other words, we do mobile scale enforcement. There is a concerted enforcement effort done to stop that,” he added.

Truck drivers apparently are bypassing the weigh station and taking alternate routes along Watt Road, Kingston Pike, Campbell Station Road, Smith Road and Grigsby Chapel Road.

The Town does have an ordinance restricting truck traffic with a weight of more than 10,000 pounds, unless that truck has a shipment that originated in or is destined for a location within Farragut.

The problem is, Farragut doesn’t have its own police force to enforce that regulation, and Knox County Sheriff’s Office won’t enforce Farragut ordinances.

Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones didn’t immediately return calls, but Town associate administrator Gary Palmer said, “In order for them to enforce our ordinances we have to specifically engage in a contract to do that. ... It’s a matter of paying for services.”

According to Palmer, the Town hasn’t yet entered into any contract with the sheriff’s office for enforcement of ordinances. In other words, KCSO treats Farragut the same as South or East Knox County — enforcing County ordinances for County residents.

But that doesn’t mean nothing is being done to stop commercial truck traffic from using alternate routes to bypass the weigh scales.

Lt. Kim Ogle with Tennessee Highway Patrol said, “We are enforcing the bypass laws.”

“So far this month we’ve already pulled over 50 trucks off the roads and took them back out to the scales and probably 50 percent of those or greater have been placed out of service ... either because they’re driving when they shouldn’t be driving or their weights are too heavy,” she added.

Ogle said trucks could bypass the scales on the Interstate if they have a “pre-pass” system, but no truck should be using alternate routes through Farragut to avoid the scales.

“The only reason a commercial vehicle can have for being in that area is if they’re making a delivery,” she said.

“And probably only one of 10 trucks that we’re stopping over there is justified. The rest is not,” she added.

According to Ogle, THP has targeted the area from Watt Road to Lovell Road for illegal commercial truck traffic since last May, but she said she was unaware of trucks driving along residential roads in Farragut.

“We’ve not had any complaints that they’ve been on other roads,” Ogle said.

Citizens who wished to advise THP of commercial truck traffic on other roads in Farragut should call the District Headquarters at 865-594-5800.

“If they have information that they’re coming down a certain road, then we can target that area,” Ogle said.

Attorney Jack Draper, a Grigsby Chapel Road resident, sent farragutpress records of communications he had with the Town in 2007 and 2008 over the truck traffic issue.

“I wish we could do something to get trucks off these roads,” Draper said.

During those communications, Farragut engineering staff did a count of truck traffic along Grigsby Chapel Road over three days, but only reported moving trucks, LCUB bucket trucks and delivery and garbage trucks.

Palmer said that was the last truck traffic count done by the Town.

“I want to see this taken care of, and not just for the Town, but personally, having them go through my back yard,” Palmer, a Village Green resident, said.

“These are things the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, in their strategic planning, needs to talk about, because as we grow, these things are going to happen. And we need to figure out what we’re going to do — stay under the County and look to them for our services or branch out?

“The public safety component and what level of service the community and the Board is willing to pay for, those are the things they need to look at,” Palmer said.

“This Grigsby Chapel truck issue is a very, very small part of that,” he added.


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