Local Truck Restrictions: The Authority

$100.  Free. Simply add your name to the drawing by uploading a picture of a sign which restricts trucks on the highways of this nation.  Is there really a big enough assortment of signs to make this contest interesting?  To date, the ITEA has amassed a collection of over 130 different signs…and there are more out there.  The article this week focuses on the authority of local Illinois government to erect signs which restrict trucks.

As discussed in the previous article, local truck restrictions are a just that – a local problem.  As complaints area registered with the local unit of government, a solution is hatched and signs are developed. The basis for the problem is what drives the signage.

The first question which needs answering is does local government really have the authority to restrict truck traffic?  The answer is yes. In 625 ILCS 5/15-316, the General Assembly provides IDOT and local authorities the right to restrict use of highways.

There are several subsections listed in this statute, but the one most pertinent to this conversation is subsection (c) where local authorities are granted the right to restrict trucks or commercial vehicles. There are some key points to consider in this text:

  1. The local authority must pass an ordinance or resolution. One official cannot unilaterally hang a sign on a tree just because he needs a quick fix.  The elected officials as a whole have the final say.

  2. The local authority has the option to “prohibit” the use of the highway by trucks or CMVs.  That means no trucks at all.  Not with conditions. Not with exceptions. Prohibited. That is an absolute.

  3. If  the local authority does not wish to enact an all-out prohibition, they have the option to restrict trucks or CMVs by “weight thereof”.  Not length. Not configuration. Not number of axles. Only by weight…another absolute.

  4. Signs must posted. If a sign is to be posted which regulates traffic, if must be an official traffic control device.

There is an endless variety of sign possibilities and configurations out there. Hence the $100 contest. The problems which comes along with truck restrictions signs start with the Illinois Vehicle Code (aka “the law) having something to say about it how to sign the restrictions.

In 625 ILCS 5/1-154, the legislature provides a definition of an“Official Traffic Control Device”: “All signs, signals, markings, and devices which conform with the State Manual and not inconsistent with this Act placed or erected by authority of a public body or official having jurisdiction, for the purpose of regulating, warning, or guiding traffic.”

Time for a word study… “All signs” means…wait for it…wait for it…all signs. That includes signs which restrict trucks. “which conform with the State Manual” means those signs which are authorized by the State of Illinois.  In this instance, the State Manual is maintained by the Illinois Department of Transportation. IDOT adopts the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and then provides a supplement edition to solve all things Illinois. “not inconsistent with the Act” means those which are not in conflict. If the law mandates which signs conform, are not all other signs thereby inconsistent? “public body” means local government (in this instance). “regulating, warning or guiding traffic” means trucks on the highway need direction.

It’s clear local government may erect signs which regulate traffic, but they must be in conformance with the State Manual.  This is important. Raise your hand if you believe there are not enough signs on the highways of this great nation regulating traffic.  Right.  Not one hand up.  If there are going to be signs, they need to be necessary and they need to be uniform.  The point of the manual is to make a semblance of sign management order across  jurisdictional lines.

The reality is the MUTCD and the Illinois state supplement, combined, list less than a dozen authorized signs to restrict trucks and CMVs.  There are several prescriptive sign options, but only a few restrictive signs.

The question begging for an answer is this:  ff locals can restrict trucks through a limited scope of lawful signage, how can there be are over 130 variations of signs on the highways of Illinois?

Tune in next week faithful readers.


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