TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono which allows municipalities and counties to make certain traffic engineering decisions without prior approval from the State Department of Transportation (DOT) was signed into law yesterday by Governor Corzine.
“No one knows the traffic control needs of a community better than the local officials who drive those roads every day,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “This bill cuts down on the needless red tape and State bureaucracy that’s delaying certain local projects which are needed to protect drivers and pedestrians and ease traffic. It expedites transportation project approvals which will have a real impact for local drivers and public safety.”
The new law, S-1908, will authorize a municipality or county, without prior approval from the DOT, to establish through ordinance, resolution or regulation a number of traffic controls designed to improve roadway safety, relieve congestion, or protect pedestrians. Under the law, local government will have the authority to approve parking restrictions; crosswalks, signs and roadways markings; speed limits; one-way streets; regulations for entrances to, and exits from parking areas; traffic calming measures; yield and stop signs; and 4-way stop intersections within 500 feet of a school, playground or youth facility.
The law stipulates that the municipal or county engineer must certify to the governing body that any traffic controls put in place are consistent with the interests of public safety or expediting traffic, and meet the standards outlined in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways. Municipalities or counties will be required to provide appropriate notice to any adjoining municipalities or counties when local action will impact the adjoining municipalities or counties. And the State Commissioner of Transportation will still be required to give approval before the adoption of any resolution or regulation which would have an impact on a State roadway.
“There are certain cases when State oversight or support is needed, and in those cases, local government will still be able to call on the DOT for its transportation planning expertise,” said Senator Buono. “However, it seems foolish for New Jersey to micro-manage every minor detail of the State’s extensive transportation infrastructure. We need to have more faith in local public officials, and their ability to do what’s right for their constituents.”
Senator Buono noted that 35 other states give local government the autonomy to make traffic control decisions for themselves. Through this legislation, municipalities and counties will be able to take quicker action on projects intended to protect public safety or ease traffic congestion.
“In most of the nation, local government is responsible for the management of local roadways,” said Senator Buono. “I’m glad New Jersey will be joining 35 other states in giving the same local control and autonomy to our qualified municipal and county leaders to move ahead with needed traffic control projects. This legislation will clear the approval log-jam for projects which will go a long way to improving the safety and accessibility of our State’s local roadways.”
The bill received final legislative approval from the Senate in October.