OAKLAND — The town is considering putting a weight limit on Rice Rips Road to curb heavy truck traffic that is damaging the road and disturbing the surrounding neighborhood.

Town councilors on Wednesday authorized Town Manager Gary Bowman to look into putting a 20,000-pound weight limit on the road, which runs between Colby College campus on the Waterville city line to Fairfield Street, crossing Messalonskee Stream.

A weight limit would prohibit 18-wheel tractor-trailers from using the road, Bowman said in a phone interview Thursday. Smaller single-axle vehicles such as oil or delivery trucks still could use the road if the limit is put on it, he added.

Bowman intends to talk to the D.H. Pinette and Sons roofing company on Rice Rips Road to gauge how a weight limit might affect business before recommending action to the council.

“Depending on what they say, we’ll determine how we will take it from here,” Bowman said. “We certainly look at this as a reasonable solution to the problem.”

Bowman suspects that most of the truck traffic is coming from a former Colonial Distributors warehouse on Marston Road, where material for the Sappi paper mill in Skowhegan is stored.

According to Bowman, trucks use Rice Rips Road to get to the warehouse, then return on Rice Rips to drive to Fairfield Street to reach U.S. Route 201 in Fairfield. A wooden bridge on the north end of Marston Road can’t hold heavy trucks, so they can’t travel through to County Road on the other side, he added.

Even though Rice Rips Road has no weight limit, the street was never built to hold heavy trucks and the traffic has done serious damage to the road, Bowman said.

“That road is just splitting apart because it wasn’t built for that weight,” Bowman said.

People who live along the quiet residential street also have complained about the noise and vibration from tractor-trailers. Bowman said the problem has been around for years, and when truck traffic gets heavy, he starts getting phone calls from residents.

“People on Rice Rips Road are feeling their walls shake when the tucks go over cracks in the road,” Bowman said.

Rice Rips Road resident Nancy Horkavy said truck traffic has been a problem on the road since she moved in almost seven years ago. Her neighbors commonly complain about heavy trucks coming through the neighborhood, she said in an interview at her home Thursday.

“It’s only gotten worse” since she moved to the neighborhood, Horkavy said.

Aside from the troublesome noise and vibrations, trucks sometimes speed on the road, even coming uphill from Fairfield Street. That poses a safety problem for the neighborhood, especially for families who have young children who play outside, Horkavy said.

The proposed weight limit would be a welcome fix to the problem, she added.

“I’m glad to hear that this is being talked about,” Horkavy said. “Hopefully, something will be done.”

According to Bowman, If a weight limit is imposed, truck traffic could be diverted back to Washington Street in Waterville and onto the interstate 95 on ramp at Kennedy Memorial Drive.

The town plans to repair the damaged road, which is cracked and broken in many places, but it can’t pursue the project within its current budget, Bowman added. If it finds a way to prevent heavy traffic from using the road, it could reduce the damage until it can fund a repair project.

“The road is in pretty bad shape. It’s really taken a pounding, but we don’t have money to fix it right now,” Bowman said. “It is certainly down on our wish list.”

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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