Hermon considering weight limits on some town roads

Posted Oct. 03, 2011, at 9:21 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 03, 2011, at 10:18 p.m.

HERMON, Maine — Town councilors will hold a public hearing Thursday night on a proposed ordinance that would provide the town a mechanism for posting weight limits on local roads.

The hearing is one of several items slated to be taken up during the council’s regular meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Town Council Chambers.

The point of the truck weight ordinance, which could be adopted the same night, is to keep heavy vehicles such as tractor-trailers off town roads that are neither designed nor built to accommodate them, Town Manager Clinton Deschene said last week.

Deschene said that while the major routes that serve Hermon can handle tractor-trailer traffic easily, some drivers prefer to use local roads as shortcuts, enabling them to shave an estimated three to five miles off their trips.

Also factoring into the truck traffic mix is the federal rule that prevents big rigs weighing more than 80,000 pounds from traveling on Maine’s interstate highways north of Augusta, Deschene said.

Though the town is still in the process of determining what the actual weight limit would be if the ordinance is put into effect, Deschene said it would not apply to vehicles exempt from weight limits under state law such as trash trucks, buses and heating fuel delivery trucks.

He also said that operators of overweight trucks that have legitimate reasons to be on posted roads can apply for permits.

The point of the proposed ordinance is to improve safety and prevent excessive wear and damage on town roads and bridges not designed or built to accommodate heavy vehicles because they aren’t wide enough, don’t have adequate shoulders or don’t offer long enough sight distances, Deschene said this week.

“Tractor-trailers are very important to commerce in Maine and in the town of Hermon,” said Deschene, who also is road commissioner. “But I have never run into a situation [when it comes to the use of local roads] where the driver didn’t acknowledge there were better routes.”

Deschene said that if the ordinance is adopted, some roads he would recommend be posted are Wing Road, Annis Road, the section of Fuller Road that runs from Billings Road to New Boston Road, and New Boston Road.

As it stands, the state does not require that towns have ordinances or town meeting approval in order to post weight limits on local roads, though adopting rules is recommended if the town intends to enforce limits, according to information provided on the Maine Department of Transportation’s website.

Hermon already has been posting some of its local roads during the annual spring thaw, said Deschene.

The agenda for Thursday’s meeting, as well as the proposed weight limit ordinance and other meeting-related documents, can be seen on the town’s website, www.hermon.net.

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