Safe Streets Morgantown proposed a truck ordinance to Morgantown City Council in August that would restrict heavy truck traffic in Morgantown.  The proposal cited that trucks that cause disturbances in residential neighborhoods and in business areas due to the noise and emissions from the tr

ucks. The ordinance, which was later passed by city council, classifies ‘heavy trucks’ as exceeding 26,000 lbs. and having three or more axles. 

Last month the Morgantown City Council delayed enforcement of the ordinance, which was passed in September. The ordinance was approved to prohibit some commercial motor vehicles—those with a Class 7 registration or higher that weigh 13 tons or more—from traveling through downtown. Exceptions written into the ordinance included downtown deliveries and emergency vehicles.

The West Virginia Division of Highways has never wavered from its position that it owns all state routes and the city of Morgantown does not have jurisdiction to regulate traffic. That’s why DOH counsel Jonathan Storage was surprised when he learned Morgantown City Council approved an ordinance restricting heavy truck traffic on state Route 7 through downtown.

“It’s the Division of Highways position that the DOH owns the road. We care for it. We pay for it and we’re bound to have a uniform system of regulations to make certain that everyone has equal access to it,” Storage said on WAJR-AM’s Morgantown AM.

A lawsuit, filed by Nuzum Trucking Company of Shinnston and Preston Contractors Inc. of Kingwood, cited that the ban is unenforceable and recommends an injunction prohibiting Morgantown from enforcing the ban. Kanawha County judge Joanna Tabit determined that the truck ordinance is illegal, citing that state code overrules Morgantown’s law about state highways. The judge also asserted that Morgantown lacked the authority to control traffic on certain types of roads and therefore ruled against the ordinance. 

“We knew it was going to go to court because there were differences in interpretations of state law,” said Morgantown City Manager Jeff Mikorski. “This ruling lets us know where we are, where we stand, now we’ll take this and think about the next step with council.” Council has 30 days to decide whether or not to appeal this ruling and will meet in executive session at its January 6th meeting to discuss how to move forward.

by Colombo Law
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