Keep on truckin’
NEGAUNEE – Several city residents addressed the Negaunee City Council during the public comment portion of its meeting Thursday about the noise and pollution caused by large trucks passing through the city on its designated truck route, M-28.
Kimme Peterson, a Negaunee resident who owns two apartment buildings on Case and Pioneer streets, said that despite a city ordinance against the use of compression (or “jake”) brakes within city limits, truckers are doing it anyway.
“We should be doing something about these logging trucks and truckers coming through jake braking at 4:30 in the morning,” Peterson said angrily, raising his voice. “So now I’m gonna invite each and every one of you to come over to a cocktail party – spend the night, if you like – and sit up there.”
He said – or yelled, actually- that the police and the fire department weren’t doing anything about it and that he planned to organize people to come to all future council meetings until the council does something to address the problem.
On two occasions, Mayor Keith LaCosse pounded his gavel and asked Peterson to calm down.
“We can settle it down when you do something about this,” Peterson said.
Scott Gravedoni, whose business, Great Lakes Upholstery, is on South Pioneer Street near the truck route, expressed similar concerns.
“I think it’s high time we got this truck route out of our city,” he said. “It’s absolutely absurd that the city hasn’t done anything about this.”
He told the council about his interaction with one truck driver with whom he spoke about jake braking.
He said the driver insolently suggested that Gravedoni not live “in the slums.” He also said that his daughter, who had suffered a long illness, had often been awakened by the braking in the middle of the night. He remarked that the street in front of his business is “all torn up” because of the trucks.
Councilman Michael Van Straten, a former Negaunee City Police officer, said that because there is already an ordinance against the use of jake brakes, what the city needs is better enforcement.
City Manager Jeff Thornton said that he and City Attorney Bruce Houghton had been discussing the truck route for a couple months, and that the issue is one the city has dealt with for a long time. He pointed out that the city depends on the money it receives from the state for the route, making the prospect for redirecting the trucks or moving the route grim. He said that he also lives near the route and has been woken by the jake braking; because of this, he said he’s learned that the truck drivers often run very regular routes and said that if residents pay particular attention to when trucks are passing though and report that information to the police, the police will be better able to enforce the city ordinance.
Houghton said that it was a very complicated issue, and that any discussion about moving the route would also have to include Ishpeming, through which the route also runs, making this solution unlikely.
Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org