Police & Fire

A Roxbury Shrug to Much Ado About Lines of Blue

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ROXBURY, NJ – There are a number of issues that could keep Roxbury Public Works Director Richard Blood awake at night; equipment breakdowns, winter storm forecasts, that angry guy who keeps calling about potholes.

Concern about the legality of the blue and red lines painted down the middle of Main Street in Succasunna wasn’t one of them.

So when he learned Wednesday that two congressmen introduced a law that would “allow for certain colored markings between longitudinal parallel lines for celebratory or ceremonial purposes,” Blood just chuckled a little.

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Indeed, the “Blue Line Use Exception Act of 2017,” otherwise known as the “BLUE Act,” aims to ensure that Blood and his DPW colleagues in a number of towns across America are protected from the heavy hand of federal bureaucracy. Those colorful lines, which violate the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, will be fine if the bill becomes law.

The measure was introduced by U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7thDist.) and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-9th Dist.). It comes in response to recent warnings issued to towns, such as Roxbury, about the blue lines inserted between double-yellow lines as a show of support for police.

Roxbury’s project includes both a blue line and a red line, the latter being a nod to the township’s volunteer firefighters.

“The Lance/Pascrell bill amends the federal manual to let this decision be made by state DOTs (departments of transportation) who work with these municipalities all the time, letting the experts and elected local officials make this call,” said Lance spokesman John Byers on Wednesday in an email.

He said Lance and Pascrell, who are members of the Law Enforcement Caucus, think the FHA’s recent letter to Somerset County, stating blue lines are not permitted, “is an overreaction.” Byers said the congressmen’s legislation “will add an exemption to the federal manual that says temporary ceremonial displays can be permitted.”

Blood said the painted lines’ illegality might become a bigger problem if a driver crosses them, causes a head-on collision and then blames confusion about the road’s status due to the improper striping. Nevertheless, he said Roxbury has no plan – with or without the BLUE Act - to attempt removing its Main Street colored stripes.

“Removing them would be very difficult,” he said.

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