BAYFIELD – The Bayfield Town Board is considering a noise ordinance, the first step toward addressing residents’ complaints about loud traffic on U.S. Highway 160.
Jake brakes, or compression brakes on large vehicles, seem to be the problem. Residents are asking town officials to put up “jake brake” signs; however, because of jurisdictional complications, Bayfield has to start by passing a noise ordinance. As of Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, officials seem interested in extending the potential ordinance, and law enforcement’s ability to enforce it, beyond brakes to other noise disturbances.
“I have been reached out to by both sides of the town,” said Mayor Matt Salka. “Just Sunday night, I had the windows open and it sounds like an 18-wheeler driving through the middle of Bayfield in the middle of the night with their jake brakes on.”
The Town Board meeting included a discussion to provide staff with guidance on developing the ordinance. The next step is to schedule a public hearing to give residents an opportunity to comment, Town Manager Chris La May said.
Traffic noise is a part of life for many residents living near the highway.
“It’s loud enough to make you think something crashed,” said Lucy Stewart, who has owned a home in Bay Estates since 1979. The big “screeches” from the truck brakes are most noticeable in the early morning.
“Some days, it’s not so bad because they’re not as often,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s real noisy.”
Highway 160 is under Colorado Department of Transportation jurisdiction, and the department won’t place signs unless the town has approved a noise ordinance against specific levels or types of noise. Once an ordinance is in place, the town can request that CDOT place signs reading, “noise ordinance enforced, no engine brakes.”
La May presented an ordinance from Castle Rock that Bayfield could use or adapt to update town noise policies. Castle Rock’s ordinance included time of day restrictions on noise from construction, live bands, loading and unloading materials, and internal combustion equipment like lawn mowers and weed trimmers. It also applied to radios, television sets, musical instruments and more, if those devices could be heard a certain distance away, like 100 feet.
“With regards to the noise ordinance itself, if any of that happens within our jurisdiction, we can enforce that completely,” Town Marshal Joe McIntyre said. “This gives more teeth in areas that we haven’t had before.”
Fines are usually set by the municipality, but a judge can fine up to $1,000 for a traffic violation, McIntyre said.
This isn’t the first time residents have complained about traffic noise on Highway 160. Stewart remembered asking the town to address the issue in the 1980s with others in the community. The effort didn’t move forward back then; however, she would have attended the June board meeting if she had known they were discussing a noise ordinance.
“We never know what the board is doing because the minutes are so out of date,” Stewart said.
“I’m glad it’s moving forward; maybe it’ll cut down on noise through here. ... I wish it would have happened awhile ago, but we’ll take whatever progress we can get out of the Town Board at this point.”