City truck ban heads to West Virginia Supreme Court

City truck ban heads to West Virginia Supreme Court

A West Virginia city that had its ban of heavy trucks from its downtown thrown out by a state court will have its appeal heard by the West Virginia Supreme Court on Tuesday.

According to 1440 WAJR radio, the state’s highest court has agreed to hear Morgantown’s appeal of a Kanawha County Circourt judge’s decision to strike down the ban. The city wants to prevent all trucks heavier than 26,000 lbs. gross weight with three or more axles from using State Route 7 through Morgantown.

When the City Council passed the ordinance in 2014, WAJR reported, lawsuits by truck firms Nuzum Trucking Co., Greer Industries and Preston Contractors, claimed the city had no jurisdiction to ban traffic on a state road.

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In December 2014, the ban was struck down by the Kanawha County court, but the Morgantown City Council voted to appeal.

The radio station said that attorney Bob Bastress, who is representing the city, will argue that:

  • “State code expressly authorizes the city to regulate the weight of trucks and truck traffic on state routes within the city.”
  • “The circuit court applied an unduly narrow and erroneous standard of the scope of municipal power.”
  • “The circuit court erroneously concluded that municipal regulation of truck traffic on state roads within cities would cause undue disruption.”

How this turns out could be one of those landmark decisions cities look for, especially as more and more seek to ban heavy trucks from inside city limits.

While this ruling applies to a state road, it could have farther reaching effects, particularly in states that seek to install tolls on their highways. Trucks can’t get off the highways and navigate along state roads in cities to avoid paying tolls – unless there is a truck ban in place.

If the West Virginia Supreme Court rules that Morgantown can’t ban heavy trucks on state roads, the presumption is other cities and towns in the state will not be able to as well. Consequently, it could be a boon for trucking interests and provide some leverage on the issue of tolls on major highways.

 

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