Noise camera to assess brakes

By John Cousins

Relief could be in sight for a Tauranga neighbourhood plagued by the racket of truck engine brakes.

The New Zealand Transport Agency has announced it intends to trial a noise camera along the northern end of Takitimu Drive.

Brett Gliddon, the agency's Bay of Plenty State highways manager said the device which measured vehicle noise would allow them to identify trucks using engine brakes. Operators would then be asked to "minimise" the use of engine braking on Takitimu Drive.

Williams St resident Trudi Kinsella welcomed news that Takitimu Drive had been chosen as a test site for noise cameras. Mrs Kinsella said she has heard a huge escalation in the noise from engine brakes after the second Harbour Bridge and flyover opened.

Trucks now roared down off the flyover and applied their engine brakes on the approach to the roundabout at the bottom of Elizabeth St. Previously it was a slow grind through the Chapel St lights and truckies never picked up much speed before hitting the roundabout.

Mrs Kinsella said it would be brilliant if the cameras managed to sort out a problem that went all night and even interrupted conversation when she was chatting outside her home.

Noise readings of engine braking taken from her home on the cliff above Waikareao Estuary peaked at 90 decibels whereas the legal limit was 65 decibels.

"It is a disgusting, horrible noise. Truckies know they are not supposed to do it, but they still do. Trucks are the rowdiest machines out there."

The news was bitter-sweet because the agency has also decided not to take the advice of the Tauranga City Council and lower the speed limit by 10 km/h.

If the limit had been reduced to 70 km/h, the agency could have delegated power to the council to make and administer an engine-braking bylaw.

Mr Gliddon said one of the key factors in determining an appropriate speed limit was assessing the "speed environment" such as traffic volumes and the design of the road. "We believe the current speed limit of 80 km/h is appropriate for this section of road.

Mrs Kinsella said it was madness to have not reduced the limit by a mere 10 km/h so that engine braking could be enforced by the council.

Tauranga lawyer Tim Richardson, who used to live in the neighbourhood, said it was a moot point whether data from the noise camera would be enforceable.

Mr Richardson said the agency might be able to persuade the police that the noise from engine braking was excessive.

However, the history of Takitimu Drive was full of complexities and he suspected the agency might tip toe around the problem because the port was such an economic driver.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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