Judge overturns truck ban in Morgantown, W.Va.

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | Thursday, December 18, 2014

A circuit court judge has overturned a controversial truck ban in Morgantown, W.Va.

Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit ruled Tuesday, Dec. 16, that the city cannot ban Class 7 and 8 trucks on a state route that runs through downtown.

The Morgantown City Council passed an ordinance in September to ban heavy trucks from Route 7. Enforcement and $500 fines were initially set to begin Dec. 1. But at the last minute, and with a lawsuit by two trucking companies pending, city officials delayed implementation to wait on the circuit court ruling.

Judge Tabit’s ruling sides with Nuzum Trucking Co. of Shinnston, W.Va., and Preston Contractors Inc. of Kingwood, W.Va., who filed their lawsuit in October seeking injunctive relief from the ban.

Nuzum and Preston claimed the city council overstepped its legal authority in banning trucks on a state highway.

For eight years, a group called Safe Streets Morgantown has pushed to ban trucks on Route 7. Members of the group say trucks block traffic and present a safety hazard. The group’s social media campaign centered around pictures, videos and captions focusing on the negative consequences of trucks passing through downtown.

The group has been relentless in its petition and proposed ordinance to ban trucks.

Throughout the process, the West Virginia Department of Transportation’s Division of Highways has refused to budge or otherwise decrease weight limits to accommodate a truck ban.

The city council has attempted to ban trucks at least one other time in recent years.

The trucking companies claimed that banning trucks on Route 7 would adversely affect all truckers and companies in the region.

According to the lawsuit, the city council did not acknowledge “clear legislative limitations prohibiting a municipality from regulating state highways and state truck routes in intrastate commerce.”

See related story:
Morgantown, W.Va., delays action to ban heavy trucks

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