Norway board declines to pay for resident's damaged car after hitting sign

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NORWAY — The Board of Selectmen has voted 3-0-2 to deny a resident’s request for the town to pay for damages to her car when she hit a sign on Roberts Road.

Chairman Warren Sessions Jr. and Selectmen Russell Newcomb and Bruce Cook voted in favor, while Selectmen Mike Twitchell and Thomas Curtis abstained from voting.

Curtis said it was an “unfortunate situation” and he would have been in favor of a partial repayment.

During the board’s Dec. 7 meeting, resident Rebecca Hastings said that while she was driving on Roberts Road, she struck a town sign warning motorists of road work being done.

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Hastings told the board that she turned onto Roberts Road from Pikes Hill and saw no signage. As she continued on the road, she said she went to change the radio station, and when she looked up, there was a sign facing backwards in the center of her driving lane.

She said that the back of the sign caused it to blend in with the rest of the environment, making it difficult to see.

She told the board that she also felt the sign was improperly placed in the roadway and asked that the town pay for the damages to her vehicle.

Town Manager Dennis Lajoie and Police Chief Rob Federico later visited Roberts Road to see if the sign was visible while driving on Roberts Road.

Lajoie told the board on Dec. 7 that the sign was orange on the front and had an orange X painted on the back.

He said that he spoke with acting Road Foreman Art Chappell, who interviewed his staff and determined that the sign was properly placed in the road.

Hastings said Thursday that the “sign belongs in the center of the road,” according to the Maine Department of Transportation handbook.

“It says that the sign needs to command the attention of the workers and traffic, and it’s not commanding attention from the driver’s lane of the road,” she said.

Lajoie said that he tried to find “specific language where it says (the sign) needs to go in the center of the road.”

“The handbook says that the sign needs to be ‘at or near the center of the road,’” Lajoie said to Hastings. “It doesn’t specifically mention the exact center of the road.”

Newcomb said Hastings was “lucky that the sign wasn’t a person in the road.”

Curtis said he felt it was “a misstep on the town’s part to not place a sign so that the entire roadway was closed.”

“I think it would be advantageous for the town to advertise that a road is closed in the future, to avoid these types of problems,” he said.

mdaigle@sunmediagroup.net

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