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City points at GPS, suggests removal of tricky medians rather than blame truckers for damage

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Truckers not blamed for damage after a series of incidents involving faulty GPS directions leave downtown plazas damaged. 

The city of Jacksonville, Illinois is working out a plan to keep semi trucks from causing further damage to downtown plazas after a series of GPS-directed incidents that caused thousands in damage. 

The square in downtown Jacksonville has entrances on North and South Main Street featuring narrow lanes with center islands. Since the square was reopened to traffic over a decade ago, the city says semi trucks consistently attempt to drive through it, causing damage due to the narrow lanes. 

According to WLDS News Radio, the most recent incident involving a semi truck happened in August of 2023, when a semi truck crashed into a concrete post and some fencing before driving up onto one of the center islands while trying to turn onto Main Street. This incident caused $14,000 worth of damage. In that instance, the driver’s insurance footed the bill, but John Green, Superintendent of City Hall, Plaza, and Maintenance for the City of Jacksonville, says that sometimes, truck drivers cause similar damage and then just drive away, leaving the city to deal with the aftermath. 

The city is now looking for solutions to the issue, but Green says that the truck drivers aren’t necessarily to blame. 

“In their defense, their GPS will take them that way,” Green said at a meeting with the city council that approved the installation of additional signs directing drivers to take another route. 

“They’re not supposed to be up there, but it takes them that way. So we’re trying to get some new signage out so that when they do get up there and they are committed, and now they’re on the square, we’re trying to get them an easier path to get off the square without turning on North or South Main and having to deal with the center islands.”

Since the August incident, new signs have been installed in addition to the preexisting truck route signage. These new signs have been placed along  Main Street from the center islands on the plaza, as well as along Morton Avenue and Walnut Street. These signs direct drivers to the designated truck routes on Clay Avenue or Church Street. The signage was also installed in a way that should help drivers to exit the plaza safely if they still end up there. 

“So we’re trying to make it so they can jog off of there a little easier rather than make a big turn. We went out a little bit further. There are truck routes and we are trying to get them to use those. So we thought with some new signage it may help a little bit,” Green said. 

If the signs do not work, the city says they won’t start ticketing truckers, but will instead remove the center islands. 

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