New Jersey to challenge court decision on big rig ban

News AASHTO Journal March 01, 2006
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New Jersey plans to appeal a federal court decision calling the state’s prohibition of big rigs on secondary roads unconstitutional and discriminatory, the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia on Feb. 21 ruled New Jersey’s 1999 law limiting double tractor trailers and other large trucks passing through the state to its Interstates, selected U.S. and state routes and the Atlantic City Expressway was unconstitutional and discriminatory. The Inquirer reported the American Trucking Associations and a Tennessee firm challenged the ban, claiming detours cost the interstate trucking industry $20 million a year.

“The governor [Jon Corzine] is extremely disappointed with the court’s ruling,” newly appointed New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri told the newspaper. The state plans “to appeal this decision all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Before the next round of litigation, New Jersey plans to implement less restrictive “emergency rules” for a 60-day period, allowing double tractor-trailers and trucks wider than 102 in. on some secondary roads. In addition to the pre-existing 546-mile “national network” of roads, the Inquirer reported the state will permit access to these secondary routes: U.S. Routes 1 and 206, parts of State Routes 38, 70 and 73. As before the court decision, large trucks making local deliveries will be permitted access to local roadways.

New Jersey’s plan to appeal was welcomed by its State League of Municipalities. “The emergency rules are better than nothing, but it still does not have the impact that the ban had,” League Executive Director Bill Dressel told the Inquirer. “If the ban is not reinstated, more lives will be needlessly lost…Eighteen-wheeler rigs going through secondary and rural roads? That’s an accident waiting to happen.”

An attorney for the appellates told the newspaper he was confident the U.S. Supreme Court would uphold the lower court decision.

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