CLARK, NJ – Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso is not the only one voicing his disapproval of the Federal Highway Administration’s recent request for municipalities to remove the thin blue lines painted on their roadways in support of local police.
“I would like to thank the assemblyman from Westfield, the minority leader Jon Bramnick,” Bonaccorso said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “He is putting legislation up to stop this from happening. And then we’ll get to see how many legislators in the state will support this.”
Bramnick is proposing a joint resolution voicing disapproval with the FHA’s determination that these thin blue lines do not comply with the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.”
Bonaccorso first voiced his disapproval publicly via his Facebook page on Jan. 6. He posted, “State of New Jersey wants us to black out our blue line!” He then went on to speak with local radio about the letter he received from the FHA saying that these blue lines could confuse drivers as blue paint typically marks handicap parking spaces.
“It's amazing that we received a letter from the state citing federal manual guidelines that the line may in some way interfere with the flow of traffic or traffic safety or it’s the same color as handicap parking paint,” Bonaccorso said. “There isn’t a handicap person in the world that would park on a double yellow line in the middle of the street. It’s ridiculous.”
The township council unanimously passed a resolution that memorializes the township's opposition to the FHA ruling during the business portion of Tuesday's meeting.
At the federal level, Congressman Leonard Lance (R-7th) is working with Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-9th) on the Blue Line Use Exception Act, legislation that would permit thin blue lines to be displayed on roadways in support of local police. The BLUE proposal was introduced on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
“With that help I think our thin blue line, which we and other communities throughout New Jersey have installed to show support for our police departments, not only here but throughout the country…will be taken care off,” Bonaccorso said.
“One hundred thirty five police officers died in the line of duty in 2016. Seeing those faces on the news has been heartbreaking. ," Lance said. "Local communities should be able to honor law enforcement without the federal government’s telling them no. We should honor police personnel all year, especially as we celebrate Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Our bill will let local New Jersey communities keep their ‘blue line’ dedications,” he added.
Clark’s blue line was completed this past October. It runs down the center of Westfield Avenue, past the Clark Police Department’s headquarters. At that time, Bonaccorso also issued a proclamation declaring the month of October "Blue Lives Matter Month."
"We live in times when the police department needs to know we have their backs," Bonaccorso said. "They have our backs everyday. It's so important to let them know we care and we thank them."
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