I am commenting on the Oct. 7 article “Traffic Issues” and Oct. 17 editorial “Squeaky Wheels.”
When I first requested the city restrict the use of engine brakes on the bypass, Ward 3 Councilor Terry Clark supported my proposal, due to numerous complaints from residents in his ward. Engine brakes are for preventing runaway trucks on hills, not for braking on level roads or at red lights. Most drivers don’t abuse them, but several are repeat offenders, multiple times a day. These individuals also have loud exhausts. They use their engine brakes purposely to make noise and annoy people.
I drove an engine-brake equipped truck for many years, and only used the brake on steep downgrades. The back pressure from the engine brakes can be heard all the way to downtown. They shake nearby buildings and are a detriment to Keene’s quality of life. However, as usual, Public Works Director Blomquist and Police Chief Russo opposed the proposal. Another councilor stated he was behind a truck that day, the noise was objectionable, and probably violated the city noise ordinance. I was away for the full council vote, but was not surprised it was defeated.
Thousands of towns across the U.S. and Canada have restricted the use of engine brakes. Why can’t Keene? The simple answer is our public works director and police chief don’t want to be bothered with new regulations. Which brings me to the editorial.
Over the past three years, I have attended several municipal services committee meetings, where residents have pleaded for speed reduction measures. The director and chief always have statistics saying there is no problem. The only request ever approved was on a street where a city councilor lives. Coincidence? I doubt it.
Keene, despite the denials, has a speeding problem, especially on the bypass. Neighboring towns aggressively enforce speed limits. Why doesn’t Keene? The only requests that ever seem to be granted are simple ones: painting a new crosswalk or installing “No Outlet” signs.
We will have a new mayor in January. Hopefully, he will be more proactive in addressing these issues. The police chief and public works director certainly don’t seem to care.
195 Key Road, No. 18