South Amboy officials continue to support blue line on Broadway


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SOUTH AMBOY — Officials said that the city has no intention of removing its blue line on Broadway.

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Business Administrator Camille Tooker said at the Feb. 1 City Council meeting that there have been concerns from the Federal Highway Administration that the popular practice of using blue paint to support police officers is confusing. This is because the blue used to paint the street between the two yellow lines on the road is the same color used to delineate parking spaces for those with disabilities.

Those concerns were captured in a Dec. 8 letter from Mark R. Kehrli, director of the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Transportation Operations, responding to an inquiry from the Somerset County Engineering Division on whether the practice was in compliance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) for Streets and Highways.

According to the letter, the blue line does not comply with the MUTCD. Blue, the letter explains, is to be used exclusively to designate parking spaces for those with disabilities.

Kehrli, in his letter, does recognize the intent behind the effort, but discourages the road-striping practice.

“We appreciate the impact of expressing support for law enforcement officers and value their contributions to society,” the letter reads. “There are many appropriate and fitting ways to recognize service to the public that do not involve the modification of a traffic control device, which can put the road user at risk due to misinterpretation of its meaning. It is therefore critical that the uniformity of pavement markings be maintained so as to present a consistent message that accommodates the expectancy of road users.”

Tooker said in spite of that guidance, she and Mayor Fred Henry were not in favor of removing the line. She said they were looking for the council to support a joint resolution from the state Senate and Assembly disapproving the Federal Highway Administration’s determination.

The resolution calls the determination “nothing more than federal overreach into a matter of exceptionally important local public concern.” The resolution also points out that municipalities regularly depart from MUTCD guidelines when they use public roads as parade routes.

“We’re doing this because there are over 100 police officers shot last year in the line of duty. It was open season on police,” Tooker said. “They’ve been through a lot. We want to show our support.”

“I agree,” Council President Mickey Gross said.

Fellow council members also agreed and said they thought it was highly unlikely that anyone would be confused and mistake the middle of the road as a parking space.

“It’s kind of silly, really,” Henry said.

Tooker also pointed out that Broadway is a city-owned road, as opposed to a county, state or federal road. The blue line, Tooker told the council, runs from Main Street to Bordentown Avenue. The city’s police station and City Hall are on the portion of Broadway where the blue line was painted.

The city unanimously passed a joint resolution at the Feb. 15 meeting supporting the state Senate and General Assembly that disapprove of the FHA’s determination. There is also pending state legislation supporting the practice.

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