Limit travel of large trucks on local roads


   The large trucks that rumble the nation’s highways have no place in Princeton.
   Although these roadway behemoths — some 102 inches wide, others with double trailers — have become crucial to the interstate commerce that is integral to the nation’s economy, they don’t fit our local highways and roads. Their sheer size on roads that in some areas have no shoulders makes them a safety hazard to school children and local motorists as well as an impediment to traffic flow.
   Under the rules proposed by the state Department of Transportation, large trucks would be allowed to use these local highways if they needed to leave the National Network to refuel, make local deliveries or reach a terminal. What Princetonians and their neighbors rightly fear is that truckers will use the state network and local highways to go from one terminal to their next destination instead of taking a safer route via a National Network type of highway.
   The state rewrote the rules last year after a federal court decided that New Jersey’s previous regulations were unconstitutional because they restricted interstate commerce. The new regulations limit large trucks to a hierarchy of roadways from the national arteries to the state Access Network to local roadways.
   Although DOT Commissioner Kris Kolluri assures us (The Packet, Feb. 2) that the new regulations are more restrictive than the previous rules, area residents are rallying in protest over the possibility that these large trucks could be traveling down Nassau Street (Route 27) or Bayard Lane and Stockton Street (Route 206) or Washington Road (Route 571).
   Princeton Borough and Township have created a joint truck task force to lobby the state to keep large trucks from these local streets. Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Princeton) has spoken out against the new rules and on the need to exclude Princeton streets from the New Jersey Truck Access Network. Montgomery Township has written its objections to having its section of Route 206 included in the state network. And Lawrence Township has sent a resolution of protest to the DOT.
   Many residents are writing to Commissioner Kolluri to protest the state’s regulations. The state will accept letters of comment until Feb. 16 before completing the process and finalizing its rules.
   In addition, Commissioner Kolluri will meet with the public to discuss the regulations at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Rider University in Lawrence.
   Now is the time for not only residents but local merchants and businesses — with a financial stake in limiting traffic congestion and the safety of their employees and customers — to register their objections.
   One important voice should be that of Princeton University, one of the area’s largest employers, whose campus faces Nassau Street and straddles Washington Road, a local thoroughfare that connects to Route 1. The university said it supports the review of the proposed rules, but should go further and join the borough and township officials in asking for local routes to be removed from the state’s network.