Residents of Cloquet’s 18th Street lodge complaints against Sappi truck trafficIt may seem like a case of David versus Goliath, but a handful of residents who live along the two-block section of 18th Street between Cloquet Avenue and Avenue B in Cloquet are making their voices heard. The Cloquet Police Department has fielded numerous complaints from the residents of that street about noise and debris from trucks entering and exiting the Sappi paper mill.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
It may seem like a case of David versus Goliath, but a handful of residents who live along the two-block section of 18th Street between Cloquet Avenue and Avenue B in Cloquet are making their voices heard.
The Cloquet Police Department has fielded numerous complaints from the residents of that street about noise and debris from trucks entering and exiting the Sappi paper mill.
“The residents are concerned with the trucks coming and going up and down their street,” explained Cloquet Police Chief Wade Lamirande. “Some of them have younger kids, and they are worried about the speed the trucks are traveling and whether they’re coming to a complete stop at stop signs.”
He said the residents are also unhappy about the fact that wood chips and bark from the logs hauled by many of the trucks are ending up in the street and in their yards, causing an ongoing problem with litter and debris.
Another issue voiced by the 18th Street residents is the use of “jake braking” (a sudden, and decidedly noisy, release of the compressed air trapped in the cylinders to slow a vehicle) by some of the truckers, which results in sound pollution of the neighborhood.
Their complaints also include the argument that trucks are using an unapproved truck route by entering the mill by way of 18th Street.
Not so, said Cloquet City Engineer Jim Prusak. Prusak said that although the street is not authorized as a truck route in Chapter 5 of the Cloquet City Code, he said the code was written some 40 years ago and was never updated when the city council approved use of 18th Street as a truck route a number of years ago when Sappi was considering revising its truck entrance.
“The code simply hasn’t been updated,” said Prusak, “but the council has indeed acted on it.”
Lamirande said from a public safety perspective, the police department is most concerned about the speed and stop sign issues, and he said the department has put extra patrols along that stretch, though no citations have yet been issued.
He is also concerned about any possible violations of the city’s noise ordinance, which prohibits the use of jake braking within the city limits, adding that signs to that effect are posted on both ends of town.
“Some people have noticed that when the trucks are coming in from Highway 45 along that stretch in front of Jarden, and they are fully loaded, some of them are using their jake brakes.”
Lamirande said one of his officers has talked with Sappi’s wood yard supervisor about the issues, and the police department has offered to print up flyers reminding truck drivers of the city’s ordinances that will be passed out at the Sappi guard shack as trucks enter.
“We are trying to work with everybody,” said Lamirande.
"To address community concerns that we received earlier this week regarding noise and debris from log trucks traveling to our Cloquet Mill, Sappi reminded loggers and trucking associations to try to prevent and minimize these issues. Sappi also posted a notice from the Cloquet police department at its woodyard," said Amy Olson, spokesperson for Sappi Fine Paper North America.