BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – Several residents voiced concern to county officials Tuesday about the noise associated with trucks on highways near residential areas.
At Tuesday’s regular Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting, four residents from the Clearview Heights subdivision expressed concern about the use of jake-brakes.
“As Clearview Heights owners, we have some concerns about the noise control of the highway from the jake brakes from fertlizer trucks and other trucks coming down the highway and from Highway 2,” said resident Richard Azinger. “There’s a lot of noise and these truck drivers don’t have any signage to tell them to slow down.”
A jake brake is an engine brake for diesel truck engines that cuts off fuel flow and interrupts the transfer of mechanical energy to the drive mechanism, but results in a loud, repeated exhaust ‘bark” as part of the slowing process.
Azinger presented a petition to the supervisors signed by the residents of the subdivision.
Supervisor Rick Larkin said Azinger’s group wasn’t the first one to bring that up in the county.
“Some of the other roads peole have had some complaints but they haven’t done a petition or anything and I’ve talked with the county engineer and they said they don’t have it anywhere in Lee County, but that doesn’t mean they can’t.
Larkin said he’s also spoken with Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber who said it’s difficult to enforce because it’s difficult to catch.
Jim Noll, another resident in the subdivision, said he pulled a list of 20 counties in the state that are also wrestling with the issue.
“It probably hasn’t been an issue here because we’re relatively flat compared to counties in the northeast part of the state,” Noll said.
He said truckers who’ve been on the road a while said the grade of hills in Lee County don’t need jake-brakes.
“A lot of times it’s just some guy that likes to hear a brake. Let’s face it, it’s no different than a Harley motorcycle to a cycler as it is to a trucker. Not all of them, but there’s apparently some because I can tell you, you can almost set your watch by it.”
Noll also referred supervisors to Iowa Code 321.436 governing muffler and loud noises produced by motor vehicles.
Azinger said a lot of times it 2 and 3 a.m. and it’s very loud.
Another resident expressed concern about posting speed limit signs on the ramps to warn the truck drivers. She said there’s no turning lane until you get to the turning lanes for northbound Highway 61 bypass off Hwy. 2.
Gary Folluo said the City of Keokuk has an ordinance prohibiting the use of jake brakes and the county could draft an ordinance similar, but it would require input from County Engineer Ernie Steffensmeier and County Attorney Ross Braden.
“I would say you would do it in posted areas,” Folluo said.
Supervisor Ron Fedler said any signage for Hwy. 61 would have to include discussions with the state because the Iowa Department of Transportation has authority over those routes, other than business districts.
Folluo said he would also bring the issue up with the IDOT’s district planner for this part of the state.
“The DOT has been going around and looking at problematic situations and getting information to make a report to the state.”