This story was reprinted with permission from The Oglethorpe Echo
Tractor-trailers and their drivers are having a tough time in Oglethorpe County.
Two 18-wheelers overturned on Monday — one of them on Saxon Mattox Road — and a third overturned at the same spot on Tuesday night.
That truck came to rest on hay placed on the side of the road as part of the clean up from the previous day’s accident, said Jay Paul, chair of the Oglethorpe County Commission.
“To my knowledge, and the neighbors, I don’t know of any 18-wheeler that has wrecked there before,” he said.
And if that wasn’t enough, another tractor-trailer became mired on a muddy road in Wilkes County, just across the county line, on Tuesday, one day after a different 18-wheeler was stuck on the same impassable road, Paul said.
“GPS is constantly sending trucks through areas of the county that are nowhere near their destination, which oftentimes leaves the drivers lost or even stuck in the mud (or) stranded,” Paul said in an email. “GPS is even bringing them into Oglethorpe County via dirt roads from Wilkes County; this is creating problems for Wilkes County, as well.”
Monday’s accidents involved a truck making a delivery to the Timberland Solar Project and a granite truck. They blocked two county roads for several hours.
The truck headed to Timberland ended up on its side, shutting down a portion of Saxon Mattox Road from around 7 a.m. to about 11 a.m., said Adam Nation, director of the county’s public works department.
The granite truck lost its load on Lexington-Carlton Road at about 2 p.m. and blocked it until around 8 p.m. The block of granite came off the trailer, but didn’t damage the road and stopped on private property.
“It’s kind of become a common issue now,” said Nation, referring to granite truck accidents. “I’m not really sure what’s the cause of that. Maybe they’re hauling more rock now more than they ever have. I’m not sure.”
Tuesday’s accident on Saxon Mattox Road occurred about 5:30 p.m.
The rash of accidents continues a trend dating to 2023, when two granite blocks, weighing more than 50,000 tons in both cases, were thrown from two trucks — one in July and the other in October — causing one truck to overturn and damaging the trailer of the other one.
One of those slabs crushed an unattended car parked on the shoulder of the road.
And last week, at least three tractor-trailer trucks were stuck on both paved and dirt roads near the Timberland Solar Farm on Jan. 9 after heavy rain hit Northeast Georgia.
Paul said there are two “major issues” surrounding the trucking industry in the county.
“One is acute and the other is chronic, but both have reasonable solutions,” he said.
Trucks heading to Timberland Solar at 1300 Goose Pond Road often are directed to roads that aren’t designed for vehicles of that size and weight.
Paul said the trucks could go to either Elberton or Lexington and then input 1 Saxon Mattox Road into the GPS. He said that would take them to the intersection of Saxon Mattox Road and Highway 77.
“From there they could punch in 1300 Goose Pond Road or simply follow the numerous signs pointing them to their destination,” Paul added.
Regarding the granite trucks, Paul said: “The solution is apparent: Simply adhere to weight and speed limits.”
“A friend in the trucking/granite business told me that he told his drivers that ‘If the speed limit is 55, they should go 50.’ To build on that, if it is 45, go 40, etc.
“Both issues have reasonable solutions. It’s not that complicated.”