Chattanooga City Council — Nov. 18, 2008
The Chattanooga City Council will try muffling engine noise, voting 8-0 Tuesday night for an ordinance that makes illegal any noise above 90 decibels coming from a vehicle.
Council members decided to adopt the ordinance after getting complaints along Signal Mountain Road that some tractor-trailer drivers, instead of using regular brakes, were downshifting their engines to slow down on the steep grade, a technique also known as engine braking. The method can make a loud, grinding noise.
“We want to pass an ordinance so it can go to City Court,” said city Traffic Engineer John Van Winkle.
NOISY BRAKE ORDINANCE
Chattanooga’s City Council OKs an ordinance on loud mufflers and engine brakes that puts in new enforcement measures including:
* Vehicle noise above 90 decibels is illegal
* Violators will be cited to City Court
* Violators face a $50 fine
Source: City of Chattanooga
Ninety decibels is about the level of a circular saw or lawn mower. Anyone violating the new ordinance faces a $50 fine.
Jeffrey Surber, who lives on Signal Mountain Road, said during a Legal and Legislative Committee meeting earlier Tuesday that the engine-braking noise sometimes keeps him up almost all night.
“This has been going on since I moved in in March,” he said.
Mr. Surber, a former trucker for U.S. Xpress, said almost every city he has visited has an engine brake ordinance, so he was surprised to see that Chattanooga didn’t.
“You’ve made your case well, and let the record show you even look sleepy,” said Councilman Jack Benson.
Also Tuesday, the City Council swore in a new council member. Russell Gilbert Sr. took his place as the new representative for District 5.
The City Council also heard from Volkswagen officials concerning a property tax abatement proposal. The agreement calls for a 30-year abatement on property taxes with Volkswagen continuing to pay the school portion of such taxes.
The council will vote on the measure next week.
Cliff has worked for the Times Free Press for five years and covers Chattanooga city government. He previously covered Rhea County, as well as transportation and growth and development in Southeast Tennessee. A native of Maryville, Tenn., Cliff graduated in 2003 from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis on journalism. Before coming to Chattanooga, he was a crime reporter with Hernando Today, a supplement of The Tampa (Fla.) ...