Now Naples road postings carry weight

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Since the last week of February, many town roads in the region have been posted, which is standard practice in Maine.

Like the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT), the municipalities are allowed to impose weight restrictions on roads during a thaw-freeze cycle. The posts protect roads from damage by commercial vehicles, tractor-trailers and heavy equipment. Emergency vehicles are exempt to the weight limit rules. The Town of Bridgton sets a maximum weight limit of 23,000 pounds, or 11½ tons.

In the Town of Naples, the weight limit signs were up and drivers of heavy vehicles apparently respected them. Little did anyone know the road postings did not carry any weight?

The Town of Naples posted its roads without the power of an ordinance, according to Naples Town Manager John Hawley. Technically, because there was no ordinance, the town could not cite violations or enforce the weight-limit postings.

That’s been taken care of.

On Monday night, the Naples Board of Selectmen voted to adopt a state law governing road postings — in lieu of an ordinance.

“We couldn’t find a formal law. So, the town can adopt the state law,” said Hawley.

The town manager brought the lack of an ordinance to the board’s attention.

It has actually been the case for years — that the town’s maintenance department or road commissioner (one of the hats of the town manager) posts the roads in Naples with every confidence that was all that needed to be done.

“Naples has never formally posted our roads. We post the roads with no ordinance to back it up,” Hawley said.

“In the meantime, so we have permanence and enforcement capability, the selectmen can adopt rules until such time” an ordinance is accepted at Town Meeting.

“Right now, we cannot enforce or cite people — not legally,” he said prior to the vote on Monday night.

One road did not require town enforcement to keep vehicles away. The U.S. Postal Service employees have refused to make deliveries on Middle Road.

“Mail services have refused to use the road,” Hawley said. “There are questions whether the road can handle school buses and fire trucks.”

“Middle Road has some issues. Some of the road base is gone. Without formal core testing,” the town will not be able to determine the cause and solution, he said.

“We are looking into that,” Hawley said.

“Just so you are aware, it is going to be an expensive fix,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the Town of Casco, the selectmen discussed a possible violation of weight limit postings on Point Sebago Road.

Eighteen “wheelers are going in with loads of sand. If the road is already posted, then that’s in violation,” Selectman Thomas Peaslee said.

Chairman Holly Hancock said the town roads had been posted since Feb. 23. Typically, the posting lasts until mid-May, she said.

The Casco Board of Selectmen has roads coming at them from two directions.

The road projects funded by a recent roads bond have gone out to bid. The deadline for Referrals for Proposals (RFPs) to be returned to the Town Hall is March 22.

Plus, the board scheduled a roads workshop this month. Tuesday’s snowstorm cancelled the board’s regular meeting, thus holding up the roads workshop for another two weeks. The next meeting will be March 27. The intention is that an engineer from Sebago Technics will be on hand for the upcoming workshop — to explain the road engineering plans.

“The questions I have are system questions. If we hire Sebago Technics,” it would be beneficial to have them present at the workshop, Selectman Grant Plummer said.

“I don’t want to be the roads guy. That is not who I am. That is not who we are,” he said to the other selectmen.

Plummer was advocating for hiring a firm to help with the rebuilding of town roads that will be funded from the infrastructure bond the town floated two years ago.

The 2.5 million bond was approved at town meeting with $500,000 earmarked for the replacement of the Pleasant Lake Parker Pond Dam. The cost of that construction project is being shared equally with the Town of Otisfield.

Also, Plummer  has repeatedly recommended that the board put together a reasonable roads plan and continue budgeting for road repair and paving costs while using the bond.

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