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Home > Technical Subjects >Traffic Issues>Heavy Loads and Local Roads in Maine

Heavy Loads and Local Roads in Maine

Heavy loads can cause significant damage to our state's highway and bridge infrastructure. Here is a link to 2 streaming videos that illustrate the impact of loads on roads. Although they were produced in Minnesota and So. Dakota, they pertain to Maine as well.

Under authority of 29-A MRSA, Section 2395, all public roads may be temporarily posted to prevent abuse by heavy vehicles. The statute states that all municipal officers (not officials), the MaineDOT, and county commissioners "may adopt such rules to ensure proper use and prevent abuse of the public ways ... whenever those ways require special protection". (A municipal "officer" is the highest level of government (i.e. selectman or councilor) in a town. A town manager or road commissioner is not an "officer".)

Up until July 15, 1986, the statute allowed temporary posting only "during such seasons of the year" when protection was necessary. Typically, this meant the Spring when roads are in their weakest condition. This wording was modified in 1986 to "whenever", so that temporary road posting can be in effect during other times in a year. The MaineDOT has a posting period from November 15 to June 1. Many of Maine's local roads are not capable of handling today's heavier vehicle loads even during the summer and fall, so it may be advisable to post roads during these "other" seasons, if necessary.

How does a Town "adopt such reasonable rules"?

A Board of Selectmen or Town/City Council must develop a set of local rules and regulations to enforce this statute. These rules should be kept on file and/or posted in the Town Office/City Hall.

An ordinance is not required and voter approval is not necessary. However, it is strongly recommended to adopt these rules in traffic ordinance form. Whatever a Town decides to do, the proposed rules should be adopted after a public meeting of the Board. The specific rules can be explained and the public can comment on them beforehand. Public notice of the meeting should be given at least 7 days in advance and copies of the proposed rules should be posted and available to interested parties. (If you want to adopt these rules as an ordinance, then you must follow the traffic ordinance statute 30-A MRSA Sect. 3009.) A majority vote of the municipal officers is required to adopt these rules whether in the form of regulations or an ordinance. A town meeting vote is not necessary, and in fact, may not be legally binding.

Once the rules are established, it is good business to inform local residents, contractors, suppliers, etc. before you actually post your roads. The best procedure is to put a notice in the local newspaper(s) several days in advance stating which roads will be closed and during which time period.

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This page last updated on 1/11/13