AUGUSTA — City councilors meet Thursday to discuss whether truck engine brakes are an annoyance or a safety feature, and whether the city should put up a sign discouraging their use in a neighborhood where numerous trucks pass through to reach nearby gravel pits.

For many years, dump trucks and other vehicles have used Summerhaven and Sanford roads to get to a series of pits along the Augusta-Manchester line. Some residents along those roads have complained about heavy trucks creating dust and noise in their neighborhood.

The city recently was given a memorandum of law by Sanford Road resident Joe Colfer, authored by attorney Jed Davis, which states the city has the right to put up “No Jake Braking” or “No Excessive Engine Noise” signs. Doing that “would be immune from suit for erecting such sign, and a lawsuit for injuries arising from alleged negligence in erecting signs would be unsuccessful,” the memo states.

City Manager William Bridgeo said Colfer had approached the city previously, seeking to have signs discouraging or banning the use of loud truck engine brakes. Bridgeo said the city has declined those previous requests.

He said the Maine Municipal Association and the Department of Transportation typically advise against putting up such signs.

“That’s because truck engine brakes, sometimes called jake brakes, are a safety feature,” Bridgeo said. “So it’s ill-advised to discourage drivers from using them. God forbid we get in a situation where a truck driver hesitates on whether or not to apply engine brakes, and somebody is killed as a consequence of it.”

There has long been a “no jake braking” sign on Brunswick Avenue in Gardiner, and the signs are also in place in some other Maine municipalities.

Councilors are scheduled to discuss engine noise on Summerhaven and Sanford roads at their informational meeting Thursday, which begins at 6:30 p.m., in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Councilors also are scheduled to discuss a request from Auburn Concrete about the company’s concrete plant in a former quarry off Civic Center Drive, and discuss amending the City Council’s goals for 2013 regarding the former Cony High School flatiron building.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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