“There's no easy solution.”

That was the conclusion Marion County Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode took from a June 26 meeting that was called to discuss the county's growing concerns over the volume of traffic that is being seen on Paris Gravel Road (County Road 422).

“There’s no easy solution.”

That was the conclusion Marion County Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode took from a June 26 meeting that was called to discuss the county’s growing concerns over the volume of traffic that is being seen on Paris Gravel Road (County Road 422).

Joining the commissioners for the gathering at the courthouse in Palmyra were county personnel from the Sheriff’s Department, Highway Department and county coordinator’s office, plus representatives of the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP), Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), city of Hannibal, Hannibal City Council and a resident who lives along County Road 418.

“We talked about traffic and what we can do to slow traffic down and get as many big trucks off the road as possible,” said Bode.

Traffic worries regarding County Roads 422 and 418 heightened June 1 after a tractor-trailer hauling non-hazardous chemicals went off Paris Gravel Road and wound up on its side. It reportedly was the second mishap involving a tractor-trailer on the weight-restricted blacktop this year.

Proposals were made to limit truck traffic.

“MoDOT’s recommendation is for bigger signs and more speed limit signs to make people aware of the posted speed limit and weight limit, too,” said Bode. “MoDOT is agreeable (to additional signage) on the west end of the road where it meets Route MM, going back maybe one-quarter of a mile from the intersection, and having some kind of a signage along Route MM where you enter County Road 418.

“On the city’s side, on the east end of the road which would be where County Road 422 starts, we’re working with the city on their right-of-way to have better signage leading up to the road. The city is looking to see if they have a weight limit on their section of road and at possibly having a unified weight limit on the road. That could help, too.”

Currently the county’s portion of Paris Gravel Road has a posted weight limit of 30,000 pounds. That limit will be posted differently on the new signage.

“I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but we’ll change that to 15 tons just to make people more aware of what the weight limit is so they are not trying to calculate it when they’re getting on the road,” said Bode, adding that the county, city and MoDOT will be working on a signage solution “over the next couple of months.”

Enforcement challenges

In the meantime, the MSHP will continue to patrol Paris Gravel Road on the lookout for tractor-trailers that shouldn’t be there. But enforcement of weight limits comes with its own set of headaches, according to Bode.

“Enforcement can be a problem, especially on the overweight trucks,” he said. “Just getting them pulled over in a safe location to weigh them can be quite a problem without causing a backup of traffic. There’s just a lot going on on that road.”

Many truck drivers and out-of-state motorists wind up on Paris Gravel Road because they’ve followed directions given them by a global positioning systems (GPS). Bode reports that Teya Stice, county coordinator, is exploring “how to work with the GPS systems so people will know ahead of time, truckers especially, there are weight limits.

“We’re looking at that angle, too, but it’s very complicated. There doesn’t seem to be one system where you can go in and fix the problem,” added the presiding commissioner.

According to the MSHP, Marion County is not alone when it comes to having issues with the routing done by GPS systems.

“There are different spots all over northeast Missouri and (west-central) Illinois where the GPS sends people on roads kind of like ours, a two-lane black top versus a regular highway that people are traveling that they probably shouldn’t be on, but that’s where it (GPS) puts them as a shortcut and they travel it,” said Bode.

A long-term solution to the county’s Paris Gravel Road concerns isn’t currently more than an unfunded dream, according to Bode.

“Probably the easiest solution to control cars and people trying to cut through to find a faster way around Hannibal would be for an expressway. That’s still a long ways off, at least a decade, because of MoDOT’s funding situation,” he said. “That’s something in the future, but in the meantime we’ve got to work with what we’ve got.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com