The Federal Street weight limit will need to be increased from its current 6,000 pound limit if it is to be properly enforced, Wiscasset Police Chief Troy Cline told the board of selectmen at the board’s Sept. 1 meeting.
For the safety and security of Federal Street residents and the new pre-kindergarten to sixth grade population occupying the Wiscasset Elementary School, formerly the middle school, tractor trailers should not be allowed to use the street, Cline said.
Officers in the department physically measured the width of Federal Street and determined that many trucks were wider than the lane, creating a dangerous situation, Cline said.
However, pick-up trucks carrying a trailer with a lawnmower for a landscaping business would be in violation of the current weight limit, Cline said. In his four-years as police chief, Cline has only issued two tickets to tractor trailers for violating the weight limit – a summons with a fine of approximately $610.
In order for the weight limit to be equitably enforced, the limit would have to be raised, Cline said.
In response to a letter from Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Somerville), which offered to organize a meeting of all stakeholders in the Federal Street weight limit debate, selectmen discussed at length how to proceed in negotiating the future of the Federal Street weight limit with the DOT.
A little over two weeks ago, the DOT decided to leave the current weight limit on Federal Street in place. The decision was lauded by Wiscasset but rebuked by petition signers in Newcastle’s Sheepscot Village who have been asking the DOT to lift the Federal Street weight limit, due to heavy truck traffic on Sheepscot Road.
Chair Ben Rines said he was opposed to holding another meeting with outside stakeholders who were seeking to abolish the weight limit. However Selectmen David Cherry, Judy Flanagan, and Jeff Slack said they were in favor of holding a public meeting to address outside criticism of the weight limit and present the DOT with the passionate position of many in Wiscasset that a weight limit needs to stay in place on Federal Street.
The board ultimately decided to hold an informal meeting with representatives from the DOT to discuss the procedure for raising the weight limit and the future of Federal Street before moving forward with a larger public meeting involving stakeholders from other towns.
Cline also gave an update on the department’s efforts to maintain traffic safety in Wiscasset, in response to concerns raised about speeding in the town’s school zones and on Bath Road.
The department is making a special effort to patrol the school zones, especially with the start of the school year, and officers routinely make traffic stops, which has put the word out to motorists to have their vehicles properly registered and insured, and to wear their seatbelts while driving through Wiscasset, Cline said.
“The officers are doing a great job in being proactive,” Cline said. “I’d like to thank them for the being the caliber of officers they are.”
In other business, Wiscasset may soon take legal action against a Hodge Street property owner unless his property is cleared of debris. Two abutters to Leslie Wentworth’s property on Hodge Street expressed their frustration to selectmen about several unregistered vehicles, propane tanks, trailers, hazardous material, and other junk on the property which has not been cleared, despite the code enforcement officer’s assurance it would be by this past spring.
The threshold for a junkyard is more than two unregistered vehicles on a property, selectmen said. Selectmen said they would instruct the code enforcement officer to notify Wentworth legal action would be taken against him if the property was not cleared by Sept. 30.