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Heavy Loads and Local Roads in Maine: Seasonal Signing Information
It is probably easiest to develop local rules which follow the format of the MaineDOT. Those MaineDOT rules are explained further on. Also, the Maine Municipal Association (MMA Web site) has a "model ordinance" available which is based on the MaineDOT rules. This "model" could be very helpful in developing your local regulations.
The main idea is to enact rules which are related to the registered gross vehicle weight. This eliminates the need to actually weigh vehicles-simply check the registrations. If you do not specify registered weight in your rules, then actually weighing vehicles is a requirement if you want to prosecute violators.
Signs "must be conspicuously posted" at each end of each section of road which the Town wants to temporarily restrict heavy vehicles. The actual signs should be highly visible in color and size. You may want to place the signs high enough to be out of easy reach of vandals, but not so high as to be missed by drivers. The law does not specify any particular height.
Also, if a vehicle must travel over an adjacent town's unposted road first before it gets to your town's posted road, what do you expect them to do? It's best to work with the adjacent town before you create this difficult situation.
Typically, fluorescent orange signs measuring 11" x 22" are available at many local printshops around the State. (MaineDOT no longer provides signs to municipalities.) The color does not have to be fluorescent orange - it may be white, yellow, or any other visible color. The thickness of the signs is also important because a thin sign will not stand up to snow, rain, or slush. The standard, heavy duty MaineDOT signs are 0.048" thick (14 ply) and typically last for 1 or 2 seasons.
The "Heavy Loads Limited" signs which are the most commonly used signs in Maine are OK, but how does a truck driver know the weight limit, vehicle types, and posting dates when driving by them? Drivers are not known to stop and go over and read the signs!
You may want to design your own and graphically illustrate 2 or 3 vehicle types and put your weight limits in BOLD PRINT. This format will get your message across much more clearly.
FILLING IN THE BLANKS
Each sign shall state:
It would also be helpful to have the signature of at least one of the Selectmen or other municipal officers on the bottom with a telephone number. A Road Commissioner could also sign it, under the authority of the Board or Council, even though he is a municipal official and not an officer.
The effective date of posting should precede any significant thawing period. Temperatures vary greatly around the State, but generally the MaineDOT has found that posting roads in early March is relatively typical. This prohibits heavy vehicles during those warmer days when the road surface softens, and then refreezes at night. Vehicles should not be allowed on any road which is anything less than solidly frozen. A road is considered "solidly frozen" only when the air temperature is 32°F or below and no water is showing in the cracks of the road(if paved) or there is less than 1/2" of "thaw" on the gravel surface.
WHEN TO REMOVE YOUR POSTING
The last day of posting can be variable across the State. There is nothing "magical" about the commonly used date of May 15. The posting should remain in effect until after the frost has come out AND all of the excess water has drained off. Generally, it is best to "build-in" a couple of weeks beyond which conditions are back to "normal". Typically, State roads are posted until mid-April in southern Maine and late April/early May in northern Maine. Therefore, a posted ending date of early May is suggested.
ENFORCING THE LAW
By law, "the municipal officers within their respective municipality have the same power as the State Police in the enforcement of all rules of the DOT, the County Commissioners, and the municipal officers that pertain...". In other words, a Selectman or Councilor could stop vehicles, but it is probably best to leave these enforcement activities to law officers who are familiar with such duties. The State or County Police do not have to be called in to nab violators. Your local constable or police officer has the same power and violators can be summonsed with uniform traffic citations. Local constables should not attempt to arrest a violator, simply issue a summons instead. These citation booklets are available by writing to the Chief Judges Office at P O Box 66, Portland, ME 04112.
This page last updated on 1/23/13
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