The New Jersey truck ban announced by Gov. Christie Whitman will include more than the three north-south routes highlighted by governor that we reported on yesterday, and only applies to trailers more than 48 feet long.
According to New Jersey DOT spokesman John Dourgarian, the regulation now being drafted will apply to virtually all two-lane and many four-lane highways in the state.
"What we're saying is if you're a trucker passing through New Jersey, you must use U.S. national highways," said Dourgarian. "We're a pass-through state and we've invested a lot of state in federal money in a system of highways for through traffic. We're saying truckers should use the roads that have been provided for them."
Dourgarian noted the ban will only apply on trips with both origin and destination out of state. Truckers picking up or delivering in New Jersey will not be affected. No trucker domiciled in New Jersey will be affected, and neither will trucks coming from or going to a New Jersey terminal. Dourgarian said that trucks with a New Jersey origin or destination will be authorized to use an affected route even if that point is not along or adjacent to that specific road.
Dourgarian also noted the ban will apply to trailers over 48 feet, not to overall length. Enforcement will be up to the New Jersey State Police, Dourgarian said.
However, a debate has erupted over the role of local police. Two state legislators have promised to give local police authority to inspect trucks.
But Sam Cunninghame, Executive Director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Assn., said town-by-town inspection would not be acceptable. Trucks could be stopped in multiple jurisdictions on a single trip, he explained.
According to local newspapers, the state will begin posting warning signs for truckers immediately, particularly on the roads most affected -- routes 29, 31 and 206. But enforcement will begin only after legislation establishes penalties.
Some newspapers reported that trucks 102 inches wide or with trailers over 48 feet would be directed off affected routes or turned around until the law is in place. However, Cunninghame, himself a retired New Jersey State Trooper, said that would not be practical. He said troopers will probably begin by issuing warnings. New Jersey State Police did not return calls for comment.