An ordinance banning certain classifications of heavy trucks in downtown Morgantown is now law. City Council has voted six to one to adopt the ordinance at Tuesdays meeting. The ordinance will take effect in 90 days.
The 90 day delay is one of the changes made to the original ordinance because of two issues.
“The Police Chief, Prosecuting Attorney and the Public Service Commission all say that in order to enforce this ban, you will need to weigh the truck,” explained Morgantown City Manager Jeff Mikorski.
Mikorski says traffic enforcement stations will need to be set up for weighing trucks suspected of being in violation of the ordinance. Obtaining equipment for weighing trucks and training personnel on using that equipment will also need to be completed before enforcement can begin.
Mikorski explained that time will be needed to get the proper signage in place as well.
“In order to enforce this ban, we will have to get the authority of the state to allow signage, location and character of the signage, allowing the restrictions.”
90 days is a tight time frame to accomplish what needs to be in place before enforcement can begin, but Mikorski thinks it can be done.
“I think we could get very close to dealing with all these issues of the ban, hopefully within 90 days would be enough,” he says.
Council members also agreed to remove the definition of “three or more axles” for banned trucks because certain trucks that have only two axles can weigh more that 13 tons and other vehicles with three axles can weigh much less. At the recommendation of Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston, the ordinance now bans commercial motor vehicles registered as class 7 or greater making it easier for police to enforce.
Rewriting the definition of banned trucks and other changes during the second reading of the ordinance was one reason Council Member Wes Nugent was the lone dissenting vote on the ordinance.
“The fact that we’re still trying to tack down aspects such as this on second reading gives me pause for concern,” he says. Nugent added he doesn’t believe passing an ordinance that has caused so much controversy and is clearly opposed by the West Virginia Department of Highways and various business interests in Monongalia County is the best way to solve the problem.
Council member Ron Bane echoed the sentiments of the majority however.
“I’ve been on this council a long time, this has been an issue for a long time, and it’s time for us to get an answer.”
Bane says the worst case scenario is the ordinance is challenged in court and the city is told they can’t legally enforce it.