Trucks blocking one lane of North Main Street while parked for deliveries is a common sight in downtown Mount Airy.
But it will become less common if one city official has his way, with the issue to be discussed today during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners which begins at 2 p.m.
“I think Mount Airy’s got a great downtown,” Commissioner Scott Graham said Wednesday, “but at any (given) time of the day when you drive through there, you’re weaving in and out of delivery trucks.”
Typically, with no on-street spaces available, truck drivers will park in one of North Main’s two travel lanes while making deliveries to various businesses downtown. This requires approaching motorists to veer into the opposite lane from where the truck is parked, causing bottlenecks at times.
Graham said he was told by one local woman that she returned to her parked vehicle to find it blocked in by a truck, and looked around for the driver so she could “escape.” The woman eventually found him inside a downtown restaurant — eating lunch.
Along with the inconvenience factor, a risk is posed, the city’s at-large commissioner said. “It can be a safety issue if an emergency vehicle is coming down there.” Trucks of all sizes, including tractor-trailers, make deliveries, he said.
Graham requested that the delivery problem be placed on the agenda for discussion at today’s council meeting, to be held at the Municipal Building.
He supports restricting the practice along North Main Street to only certain times of the day. Graham said Wednesday this could involve requiring on-street deliveries to occur before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m., although he said that is just a proposal at this point.
Under that scenario, truck drivers could still make their appointed rounds between those times, but would have to park in an off-street municipal lot. “There are two big lots,” Graham said. “They will just have to do the best they can to get to the stores.”
He added, “It’s not our (city officials’) job to give them front-door delivery.”
Graham said he knows of no other cities that allow the practice Mount Airy does now. Drivers are subject to a ticket and large fine for doing so elsewhere, he said.
A Blow Against Business?
Some might argue that lots of delivery trucks downtown is a good thing for a down economy — it means the wheels of commerce are moving.
However, Graham argues that no one will be impacted by the proposed limitations on deliveries but the truck drivers themselves.
“I’ve talked to a number of the businesses on Main Street that get deliveries on a constant basis, and I’ve not had one objection,” he said of reaction to his proposal from owners and operators.
“It’s a problem that can be handled easily.”
Changing traffic patterns and other proposals have been eyed by Mount Airy officials in recent months as a means of making the downtown area more pedestrian-friendly.
“It all goes along with our plans in the retreat,” Graham said of a city government planning session held during the winter when long-range goals were discussed.
“It’s Step One in that process,” he said of the proposal to limit truck deliveries.
Commissioners also have discussed changes that would promote more outside dining downtown along with tree plantings and other landscaping enhancements.
Also at this afternoon’s meeting, Mount Airy officials are scheduled to:
• Consider the approval of a mutual-aid agreement that governs situations in which the Mount Airy Police Department renders assistance to neighboring law enforcement agencies.
“We’re just updating,” Police Chief Dale Watson said Wednesday regarding a need to make current an agreement adopted in 2003. State statutes require such a document specifying the rules and guidelines to be followed by city police personnel in working with other agencies.
No major changes are included in the update, Watson said.
• Approve an appointment to the board that oversees the Housing Authority of the City of Mount Airy, which manages public housing in the municipality. David James Beal has been suggested as a replacement for Bill G. Belton, who died on Aug. 10 with more than three years of his term remaining.
• Give special recognition to Belk Department Store as part on an ongoing city government program to honor older local businesses.
• Consider a resolution accepting an unopened portion of Creed Street by the city and formally opening its 30-foot right of way for public use. This action would improve the “connectivity of the community” along with making access easier by police, fire and public works personnel, according to a city government memo.
Creed Street is located off Rockford Street and runs parallel to East Haymore Street.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.