Work on the Palmyra Road sidewalk project is progressing rapidly, according to city officials.
Work on the Palmyra Road sidewalk project is progressing rapidly, according to city officials. The pace is somewhat surprising, considering the amount of time workers must spend looking over their shoulders for vehicles driven by individuals who have chosen to ignore “road closed” signs and drive through the work zone.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Brian Chaplin, project manager for the city of Hannibal. “It’s been absolutely nothing but a problem… a huge problem. People are coming through there like they just don’t care.”
Chaplin stresses that residents of that neighborhood are not the issue.
“If you live out there, that’s one thing. If you don’t, you’d better have a good excuse for being in the work zone,” he said.
According to Chaplin, there have been some close calls. More than once a piece of equipment being used by the contractor’s crew has had to stop backing up in order to not hit a vehicle passing through the work zone.
“We have to watch our backs all the time,” he said.
There have been times when trucks were parked sideways in the work zone to cut off the flow of traffic.
“All that did was create a traffic jam from the vehicles stopping and trying to turn around,” said Chaplin.
Chaplin’s level of frustration grew so high that at one point he started stopping vehicles himself and asking drivers why they were in a closed work zone.
“Some have said they’ve got family out here, but can’t tell you where they live,” he said. “Others are on their way to Walmart and just didn’t want to go around.”
After seeing what a problem there was, Chaplin sought reinforcements.
“We had received repeated requests from city hall to address the issue of motorists, who do not live in the area, blatantly disregarding the barricades,” said Lt. John Zerbonia of the Hannibal Police Department in an e-mail to the Courier-Post.
After a time, HPD stepped up its level of response.
“We initially tried to just warn people, but soon discovered the problem was excessive and started issuing citations,” said Zerbonia.
“There is zero tolerance for someone coming through that work zone,” said Chaplin. “If you don’t live out there I wouldn’t drive out there.”
According to police, there’s no specific time when motorists are driving through the closed portion of Palmyra Road.
“This is an issue both during working hours and at night,” said Zerbonia.
Some might wonder why they can’t drive through the area during hours when workers are not present. However, because of materials and equipment that are left in the roadway, hazards exist.
“This is a safety issue, not only for the workers, but for the motorists who ignore the barricades. There has been at least one incident, occurring overnight, of a motorist driving around the barricades, striking construction materials and leaving the scene,” said Zerbonia.
“Chief (Lyndell) Davis and Lt. Zerbonia shouldn’t have to worry about putting officers out there,” said Chaplin. “I want to thank them (HPD officers) for coming out and doing what they can.”
At the project’s current pace, Palmyra Road will be reopening to traffic sooner than later, according to Chaplin.
“It’s going along fast, faster than anticipated. It’s not their first concrete job,” he said of the project’s general contractor, D & L Excavating, Inc. “I would say they’ll be done easily in 30 days.”