As Western St. Charles County has grown we have seen steadily increasing traffic of all kinds, including commuters, tourists, public service vehicles, and commercial vehicles. I live and work in New Melle which includes the intersection of state roads F, Z, and D, the major corridors in the area.
For the most part this growth is a welcome sign of prosperity and the increased traffic has benefited local businesses. We manage the less desirable impacts through local regulations like zoning codes, road safety laws, driver licensing, and road maintenance and improvement. However we have failed to manage the unnecessary level of noise coming from many heavy trucks. This would not be a concern if it were limited to the typical heavy trucks used by the construction companies and other businesses going about their daily routines. But state roads F, Z, and D are also used heavily by a large and busy quarry a few miles south of town. In between the rush hours rock trucks are by far the dominant vehicles on Highway F; and I will not argue their right to be there. But they are also the primary cause of unreasonably loud and sometimes constant road noise. The past few weeks they ran up and down highway F for 10 to 11 hours a day. That is a lot of noise for a long time and it degrades the quality of our town and the surrounding areas.
Much of that noise could be eliminated or reduced at little cost. I see and hear many trucks pass by that are no louder than a pickup truck. They tend to be somewhat newer trucks that were manufactured to meet Federal Regulation 205.52 for vehicle noise standards. There are also older trucks that appear well maintained with functioning mufflers and quiet brakes. But there are some bad apples, and since there are so many trucks on the road now the bad ones make a big difference. This is a failure at the state, county, and in our case, municipal levels. The Federal noise standards apply only to the manufacture and sale of trucks. Missouri State law 307.170 requires only that muffler cut-outs be closed off. And that is all the state has done!
According to the Missouri State Patrol Commercial Vehicle Enforcement division there are no state regulations regarding muffler noise levels, Jake brakes, or engine braking. Muffler integrity is not regulated, and in fact turbo-charged diesels are allowed to run with straight pipes in place of a muffler. Many states and municipalities have enacted laws to manage heavy truck noise. Engine braking is prohibited in many cities, and at one time was prohibited in New Melle. It does not seem unreasonable to require that any heavy truck operating in Missouri or St. Charles County have functioning mufflers that meet a standard maximum noise level such as the 75 to 90 decibels mandated in other cities and states. This is no more burdensome than you or I keeping a decent muffler on our cars.
Barry Shortt, New Melle, MO