Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:
Question: The North Buncombe Quarry is located at 100 Goldview Road near Riverside Drive. Each day dozens upon dozens of tri-axle dump trucks exit, and return, to the quarry. These trucks are capable of hauling up to 22 tons of material, and the heavy trucks appear to be damaging the roadway. Leaving the quarry, these trucks lumber along, sometimes two or three at a time, from Goldview Road, to Aiken Road, to New Stock Road, and then to I-26. New Stock Road from Aiken to I-26 is damaged and crumbling in many places. Aiken Road between Goldview and New Stock also has damage. Traffic safety is another concern. When these loaded trucks attempt to merge onto I-26, they cannot attain highway speed in a reasonable distance. The result is a predictable and dangerously rapid slow down by other drivers, as well as hazardous attempts at jockeying to pass the slow-moving truck and rolling backup. How many trucks exit the quarry each day? How much material is being transported? Are the roads sufficient to handle the heavy use? Who is responsible for the road repairs? What alternatives does the quarry have? Is this your sort of thing anymore?
My answer: Is this my sort of thing anymore?! The day I stop writing about the unwavering menace known as the American pothole is the day I give up my journalist’s license.
Real answer: The NCDOT is responsible for the roads the reader mentioned, according to department spokesperson David Uchiyama.
“Our Buncombe County maintenance team routinely examines these roads, and will do so again upon request,” Uchiyama said via email.
You can report road problems to the DOT’s Buncombe County Maintenance office at (828) 250-3250.
“As for weight limits, North Carolina general statute (G.S. 20-118) allows up to 20,000 pounds carried on a single axle, 38,000 pounds carried on tandem-axles, and a gross combined weight not to exceed 80,000 pounds,” Uchiyama said.
Buncombe County spokesperson Lillian Govus said that the county has no jurisdiction over these roads. “We don’t have anything in our Buncombe County ordinances regarding this reader’s inquiry.”
I also checked in with Jason Conner, a representative from the quarry, which is owned by Hedrick Industries. He noted that the quarry itself, open since 1986, does not own any dump trucks.
It sells a variety of rock products to the general public, contractors, and others, and they have to bring their own vehicles.
As far as how many dump trucks come and go from the quarry every day, Conner said that varies by the day, and by what particular projects dump trucks are working on. For instance, the quarry has supplied materials for the ongoing I-26 widening project, so on busy days that would likely increase traffic.
“For us, it varies from day to day, depending on what project we may be supplying, how many trucks would come and go every day,” Conner said. “It could vary from 20 to 30 trucks a day. It could be more than that, depending on the projects.”
How much a loaded dump truck weighs is dependent on the size of the truck, but Conner said a “safe estimate” is 18 to 20 tons.
“We have to stay within the weight limits,” Conner said, adding that the North Carolina Highway Patrol has stopped trucks to check their weights. “We do not allow trucks to leave the quarry if they’re overweight.”
As far as these trucks getting on Future 1-26, they have a right to use the roads like any other vehicle.
Conner pointed out that the entry ramp is uphill at New Stock Road, “so if you’re pulling, whether it’s a tractor-trailer or a dump truck, or even a pickup truck with a heavy load, you’d have to have a really powerful engine to get up to speed in that short section.”
And no, there really is not a good alternative route. As Conner says, you can either turn left or right coming out of the quarry.
Turning left puts you on the route the reader mentioned, which is the quickest way to the Future I-26. Turning right takes you down to Old Marshall Highway (N.C. 251), a two-lane road that doesn’t offer a lot of wiggle room for dump trucks.
Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at email@example.com or (828) 337-0941.