Company sues Concord over truck travel on city’s back roads
A company that auctions damaged cars has sued the city of Concord, claiming its truck drivers shouldn’t be ticketed for using the city’s back roads to reach its vehicle storage yard in Webster.
Copart of Connecticut Inc. uses roads that aren’t on Concord’s designated truck route to deliver vehicles to Webster. The company’s lawsuit in Merrimack County Superior Court argues that the route is essential to its business.
Copart opened its storage facility on Deer Meadow Road in Webster last September. The California-based business has facilities across the Northeast, and it auctions its salvaged cars over the internet, according to its court petition filed last month. Independently contracted truck drivers used the city’s back roads “without incident,” Copart said, until April, when the Concord police began ticketing them for driving off the truck route.
The Webster storage yard, at 111 Deer Meadow Road, is less than a mile from Concord. Before the drivers were ticketed, they used Exit 15 on Interstate 93 and traveled on North State Street before taking Bog, Horse Hill and Blackwater roads to the Webster town line.
Trucks are permitted on I-93 and North State Street. But the other roads aren’t on the city’s truck route.
“This particular route was never constructed for regular truck traffic, and it would result in premature deterioration of the street if we allowed regular truck traffic on it,” said Deputy City Solicitor Danielle Pacik.
The lawsuit is based on an exception in the city’s truck route ordinance, which allows trucks “where necessary to the conduct of business at a destination point.”
But Pacik said the company is using the Concord roads as a shortcut into Webster. The city’s ordinance only allows trucks to leave the truck route and travel to a destination if their destination is on that same road, she said.
Copart argues in the lawsuit that Concord’s roads are necessary to its business because other routes to its facility are long or dangerous.
“Other routes suggested by the city are similarly circuitous, dangerous and costly,” the lawsuit states. “The Bog Road route is the shortest, safest and most reasonable route to get to Copart’s place of business in Webster.”
Since the Concord police began issuing tickets to Copart drivers, they have changed their route.
Drivers now take Interstate 89 to Exit 7 in Warner, then travel on state routes 103 and 127 to Clothespin Bridge Road and Deer Meadow Road in Webster. It’s “substantially longer and more dangerous than the Bog Road route,” according to the lawsuit.
The route through Webster’s back roads is more than 24 miles from the junction of I-89 and I-93 to Copart’s storage yard. The route through Concord is 13.6 miles.
The town of Webster has asked the company to pay for improvements to the roads where its trucks travel.
The town allows trucks on Clothespin Bridge and Deer Meadow roads but posts seasonal weight limits, according to a letter from the board of selectmen to Concord’s legal department.
The town requested that Copart hire an engineer and evaluate the cost of improving the roads and two bridges that its drivers use in Webster. If Copart then makes the necessary improvements, the town would lift the seasonal weight restriction, according to the selectmen’s letter.
But Copart argues that Webster’s proposed solution isn’t acceptable.
“The engineering study itself will be costly; the cost of making the contemplated improvements will be exorbitant,” the lawsuit states.
Without the ability to use Concord’s roads, the company argues that “Copart will soon be out of business at its facility in Webster.”
A manager at the Webster facility referred questions to the company’s attorney. He did not return a message left yesterday.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday in Merrimack County Superior Court.