315 loop (copy)

A truck-trailer drives on the Carthage Loop.

Frustrated Carthage officials are asking the Texas Department of Transportation for help with truck-trailers illegally driving within the city limits.

The problem, Police Chief Blake Smith says, is that construction around the Carthage Loop means truck route signs are being taken down or replaced with smaller signs — and so more and more truck-trailers are going through the city instead of taking the Loop like they should.

Smith recently wrote an 18-page letter to TxDOT’s Atlanta office and discussed the problem at Monday’s City Commission meeting.

“I put at what (signs were) at each highway coming in, gave them my ticket data, told them this is — over the years I’ve been here we’ve had good signage and this is what we did in the past,” Smith said. “The construction companies have taken them all down. They haven’t been replaced. Our city isn’t set up, the infrastructure isn’t there for these trucks. They’re eating us alive, and I’d much rather have signs and trucks take the Loop than us writing tickets.

A city ordinance prohibits truck-trailers from driving through the city unless they are making a delivery.

Smith told commissioners that Carthage PD had, roughly, averaged about 125 to 140-150 tickets for off-truck routes in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. In 2019, they wrote about 1,000 tickets for the same issue, and nearly 600 were just for West Sabine Street.

City Manager Steve Williams said at Monday’s meeting that the trucks are following GPS most of the time.

“And it’s telling them to go straight through because it’s quicker?” Commissioner Tate Barber asked.

“Yeah. So Chief Smith has written a letter to TxDOT with supporting documents,” Williams said. “What used to be out as far as the signs and things — with all the construction that’s gone on in the last few years, a lot of those signs are not up, they’re not as big as they were.”

Smith noted several problems. At Texas 315 and the Loop, truck route signs have been made smaller. At the U.S. 59 North intersection, construction signs are blocking one truck route sign and another was made smaller.

“We did try to go local with TxDOT and get that corrected and they wouldn’t do anything for us, so we’re going to Atlanta,” Williams said.

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Meredith Shamburger serves as the regional editor for Carthage and Kilgore. She has previously worked at the Longview News-Journal, the Marshall News Messenger and The Dallas Morning News. Meredith graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2011.