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Pingree Grove looks to put brakes on truck noise

Updated: December 22, 2012 6:20AM

PINGREE GROVE — Village trustees approved an ordinance aimed at reducing noise caused by semis and other large trucks passing through town. It prohibits the use of engine or exhaust braking systems that emit “excessive noise.”

Signs will be posted along routes where big rigs travel, such as Routes 20 and 72, to warn drivers to keep the noise down. Violations can result in a $75 fine. Trucks with mufflers to limit excessive noise will be allowed to use their engine brakes, often called “jake brakes.”

According to Trustee Bernie Thomas, drivers use the devices to save wear on brakes and to stop suddenly in an emergency. Thomas believes the ordinance will do little to deter truck drivers from using them.

“There’s no teeth to it,” said Thomas, who cast the only “no” vote. “It’s too vague, too hard to enforce, and it costs us money to put up the signs.”

Thomas instead suggested reducing speed limits to reduce the likelihood that drivers would use their engine brakes when approaching stop lights.

“The language of the statute and what we can do with our signage is relatively vague,” said village attorney Dean Frieders.

Frieders said the way state noise laws are written kept the village from listing a specific noise level that must be reached for a violation to occur. He also said a precise noise limit would be difficult for police to enforce.

“It would be hard for the police to know their exact distance to a vehicle and have a meter out there to measure the sound,” Frieders said. “The ordinance is as specific and as direct as we can get.”

Village staff has identified six locations where signs will be posted. Village Administrator Ken Lopez estimates the cost will be around $1,000.

“The purpose of this is visual awareness for truck drivers and to have a deterrent,” said Village President Greg Marston. “And it’s been proven to work in other communities and could have a direct effect on everyone who lives within earshot of these roads.”

Light on schedule

In other news, village engineers reported that work on the stoplight at Reinking Road and Route 72 is going as planned and is expected to be completed in February.

Contractors are waiting on the mast arms and traffic signals to be delivered in early to mid-January, with installation expected to take two to three weeks.

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