New Jersey bill seeks new large-truck ban

| 3/10/2006

If a New Jersey state lawmaker gets her way, large trucks would be prohibited from using smaller highways in the state.

Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Lawrence, introduced a bill March 2 that would ban all trucks from any road other than interstate highways, the New Jersey Turnpike or the Atlantic City Expressway.

“Tractor-trailer trucks simply make our local highways and roads less safe,” Turner said in a written statement. “In my district alone, I know of state highways that are already packed enough during rush hours without tons of trucks adding to the congestion. Our residents deserve to have safer roads that are truck free.”

Turner’s bill release follows an appeals court decision late last month that threw out a 7-year-old ban on heavy trucks on many routes in the state.

However, emergency regulations are in place prohibiting trucks on county and local roads that are less than 11 feet wide – except for local deliveries.

The ban required 102-inch wide standard trucks and double tractor-trailer combinations traveling through the state to use interstates, the New Jersey Turnpike, the Atlantic City Expressway and parts of state Routes 42, 81, 130, 322 and 440.

The bill would impose similar restrictions, but it would permit truckers to exit such highways to eat, rest or seek truck repairs.

This isn’t Turner’s first go-around for stricter truck rules. She has offered several bills in the past few years to expand the truck limits recently declared unconstitutional.

“While trucks make up an important part of our commercial transportation system, motorist and pedestrian safety must come first. There are simply some roads in New Jersey where tractor-trailers don’t belong,” Turner said.

State highway officials say they’ll appeal the court ruling that ended the 1999 ban to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the ban violated interstate commerce rights. But New Jersey officials say another federal court has ruled that states have the upper hand when it comes to setting highway safety standards.

Turner’s bill – S1515 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee.