Boro explores banning trucks on Main Street

March 15, 2016: Our truck-hungry Main Street bridge may be going on a diet soon.

Mayor Pete Cammarano announced at the Borough Council meeting last week the borough is looking into banning trucks from Main Street. Ideally, the ban would encompass the entire length of Main Street, he said.

The ban would be based on certain weights and lengths, Cammarano said, but would definitely include the kind of big tractor-trailers that keep getting stuck under Metuchen’s Truck Eating Bridge.

The Mayor said the ban would not include delivery trucks, which have to be able to deliver to local businesses.

“We’ve been talking about this since I was a kid,” Cammarano said about trucks getting stuck under the Main Street bridge, which is owned by Amtrak. “This seems to be a reasonable way to prevent bridge strikes as well as get the trucks off of where they don’t belong. It’s been a long time coming.”

The idea emerged out of discussions of applying for a grant to prevent bridge strikes. “It dawned on me that the cheapest and most common sense way to prevent it is to eliminate as many trucks as possible from Main Street,” Cammarano said in an email Tuesday. “Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to research and fix something when you can just ban them from the road.”

Borough Council doesn’t have the authority to ban trucks from Main Street, which is a county road. It’ll have to work through the county, and I imagine that comes with all sorts of red tape.

The Mayor characterized the process as “pretty extensive,” but said ” I don’t think we’re looking at a big hurdle … to get trucks off of Main Street.”

So who knows how long this process could take. But the process is moving forward. The borough engineer will work on coming up with that alternate route, which is a required part of the process, Cammarano said. Then the borough will apply to the county and state for the ban.

“Trucks present several challenges. In addition to bridge strikes, trucks going out Central Avenue will often come up Route 27 and turn left onto Main Street, past an elementary school and then follow the road to Plainfield Avenue to Central Ave.,” Cammarano said in an email. “I’m not sure why this is the case when they could just go left and pick up Central Ave. at the intersection of Middlesex [Avenue].”

It’s always baffling to me when I see a massive tractor-trailer cruising down Main Street toward the bridge, the driver looking slightly nervous as that dingy steel and cement monstrosity rises up from its dip in the road. There’s gotta be a better way to go.

For everyone’s sake, let’s put that bridge on a diet.

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