COLUMBUS — If Larry Malicky had his way, he wouldn’t have to hear the loud noise of a semi-truck’s engine brakes again.
Malicky, a resident of Whitetail Lake, approached the Platte County Board of Supervisors Tuesday about the addition of signs prohibiting engine braking.
“I’m not against trucks or truckers,” Malicky said, but the noise created when truckers use engine brakes is loud enough that it can be heard at night, so much so that he and his wife can’t sleep with the windows open.
Engine braking is prohibited within the city limits of Columbus. The board discussed posting signs stating the same for the county in areas where there have been complaints from residents and business owners, such as the intersection of highways 30 and 81 near Whitetail Lake.
Before signs can be added, there needs to be a resolution passed, said Deputy County Attorney Elizabeth Lay.
“It’s a much bigger issue than just putting signs at the edge of town. To put the regulatory sign up, there needs to be legal precedent or statute,” Lay said.
Since receiving complaints from residents like Malicky and John Braun and Bob Niedbalski, who were also at the meeting, Lay has been working on a proposal. She hopes to have one to present to the board at its next meeting Aug. 27.
“What we are discussing is putting a sign in an area that would put a truck driver on notice that a residential area is coming up and there is no engine braking going forward,” Lay said.
Engine braking, Lay said, is used by truckers who come into town at a rate of speed that is too high. They use engine brakes, which are a backup to primary brakes, to slow down. Typically, engine brakes should be used for steep downgrades or when the primary braking system fails.
Discussion also was held about whether engine braking should be prohibited countywide. Board member Ron Pfeifer spoke strongly against that idea.
“Countywide is very inconsiderate. You people have to do some research before you vote on something like that," Pfeifer said. "These people outside of this community of Columbus who drive trucks and haul thousands and thousands of bushels and pay taxes and taxes and taxes aren’t going to like this at all."
No action was taken on the issue.
The board did approve funding for a water drainage project study near BD Medical.
David Bell, co-chair of the Columbus Economic Council, asked the board to provide $22,500, the same amount requested of the city, to pay for the cost-sharing study.
The city and county funds combined will match $45,000 provided through state grant funding. That money will cover the engineering design costs for storm water improvements. The city has yet to approve the funding.
An initial study showed storm water from around the area pours into a point on 10th Avenue creating drainage issues. Though most of the properties in the area are within the city limits, 30 percent are outside the city. That is why the county is contributing money. BD could also provide funding to the project.
The project itself could cost as much as $1.5 million and will include making improvements at BD and along Third, 12th and 14th avenues. A retention pool could also be added at Platte County Agricultural Park.
In other business, the board gave its OK for two separate resolutions with the Nebraska Department of Roads.
The first is for underwater bridge inspections on 20 canal bridges at a cost to the county of $14,301. The other contributes $5,896 for a 3-mile paving project from Lost Creek Parkway to 280th Street. The centerline of the road will be ground down and a high-intensity paint will be added. The paint will last four years.
The board also:
- scheduled a meeting for 9 a.m. Aug. 26 to set levy limits and work on the county budget,
- authorized use of a courthouse water hookup for Columbus Days, and
- agreed to pay $417.30 in travel reimbursement for the deputy public defender, who attended a training session at the National Criminal Defense College.