Falmouth council weighs truck traffic regulations

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FALMOUTH — While no action was taken, the Town Council discussed regulation of commercial vehicles on town roads at its meeting Monday night.

The issue stemmed from concerns about traffic on Brook Road, where a resident said an ordinance prohibiting commercial truck traffic was not being enforced. The resident requested that a “No Through Trucks” sign be restored on the road.

In a memo to the council, Town Manager Nathan Poore said similar concerns came to his attention in 2009, and that such requests occur periodically. He said he provided updates to previous councils, and that the same resident approached him and asked for the signs to be restored.

Poore also said there was nothing he could do because he thought “the ordinance was unenforceable.”

The current ordinance prohibits through bus and truck traffic on Brook Road between Blackstrap and Mountain roads, with exceptions for emergencies and local passenger buses along designated routes.

Poore told the council the issue started out as a simple matter of sign disrepair, but requires “thoughtful consideration” of Maine Department of Transportation rules, federal laws, road conditions and more.

Maine DOT maintains some jurisdiction on Brook Road, including the portion between Blackstrap Road and Leighton Road. It is Maine DOT policy “not to limit or prohibit commercial truck traffic on major collector roads, which is the designation for this part of Brook Road,” according to Poore’s memo.

Councilor Russell Anderson pointed out that the ordinance had been on the books since 1979, and had been enforced for the most part until recently. He said it was “in the town’s and residents’ interests to enforce the ordinance.”

“We ought to have the right as a town to prohibit commercial trucks on residential roads,” Anderson said.

Councilor Sean Mahoney said he didn’t want the Town Council to spend too much time on issues like this, and the Council needed to be cautious of opening the door for similar resident requests for traffic limitations.

But he said he agreed with Anderson, because the ordinance had been on the books for so long.

“Unless the ordinance is illegal, it should be enforced,” Mahoney said.

Councilors seemed to largely agree to enforcing the ordinance, but with a more strict definition on the type of vehicle limitations on the road. 

Councilor Dave Goldberg said “it would seem logical to reaffirm the ordinance.”

Poore’s memo concluded by saying councilors have two choices. They could either choose to enforce the ordinance, in which case he would order signs put up, or they could repeal the ordinance and review other options.

In other business, councilors:

• Unanimously passed an order to condemn land for sewer use. The area in questions is at the Mill Creek pumping station, and the town agreed to pay the Falmouth Land Trust $3,000 for the land, to be paid from the waste-water enterprise fund.

• Unanimously passed an order to hire Wright-Pierce for consulting services for the Route 100 Vision Project. The consulting service is expected to cost $50,000 and will come from the West Falmouth Crossing Tax Increment Financing account.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.