By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
NORTHBOROUGH – The Northborough Board of Selectmen formally prohibited the use of Jake brakes on Bartlett Street during a meeting on Oct. 18.
Town Administrator John Coderre said the selectmen’s vote and new signs stating the prohibition will give the police department the ability to enforce the new bylaw, which was previously approved during this year’s May Town Meeting.
Coderre said the bylaw was proposed specifically at the request of Bartlett Street residents.
“Whether or not it applies to other areas of town remains to be seen,” Coderre said.
The restriction will apply to the entire length of Bartlett Street in Northborough.
That bylaw restricted use of Jake braking — engine, compression, dynamic brakes or a mechanical exhaust device — except in emergencies while operating a diesel truck where prohibited by the selectmen.
Selectmen, police discuss ban enforcement
The bylaw requires a public hearing prior to the restriction.
A first offense violation is a $100 fine. Subsequent offenses carry a $300 fine.
Coderre said these trucks are required to have compression brakes.
“So, you can’t outlaw them, and you can’t just say, ‘We want a prohibition across the entire town.’ That’s not allowed, and you can’t place one — a prohibition — on a state road, say like Route 20,” Coderre said.
The selectmen are allowed to examine specific roads and determine whether a prohibition is appropriate, though.
Northborough plans to reach out to the facilities along Bartlett Street and ask them to brief their drivers, Coderre said.
Selectman Kristen Wixted asked how the police department would enforce the bylaw.
“[It’s] no different than…a speeding enforcement,” responded Police Chief William Lyver.
Drivers typically brake when they see a police car, which would be sitting on the side of the road, Lyver said. If a truck brakes and their Jake brake is engaged, Lyver said, it will make a noise, which he said would be enforceable.
Resident asks for sign on Lyman St.
Signs would be placed near Hayes Memorial Drive, in the middle of the street on the town’s side of Lyman Street and on the opposite end of Bartlett Street.
“The idea is to get it coming from either side and a reminder in the center, essentially, of no engine braking,” Coderre said.
Resident Janeen Callaghan asked if a sign could be installed on Lyman Street as trucks approach Bartlett.
“That is notorious for truckers using Jake brakes at that location,” Callaghan said.
Director of Public Works Scott Charpentier said the signs are single-facing, but there will be one sign as trucks turn off Lyman and onto Bartlett Street. There will be another sign as trucks come down the hill in the area to turn left onto Lyman Street.
A sign on Lyman Street would be out of the scope of what the selectmen were deliberating on Oct. 18, but it could be something the selectmen take up in the future, Coderre said.