Police

Feds Nix NJ Municipalities' Practice of Painting Blue Lines in Road to Show of Support to Police

A county engineer asked the FHA for guidance about the practice, and found out it violated federal regulations.

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Northvale PD

A number of towns in New Jersey decided to paint blue lines in the middle of their roads as a show of support for local law enforcement ("the thin blue line"), but after the chief engineer of Somerset County sought clarification from the federal government about the practice before committing to a blue line there, they've found that the practice violates federal regulations on road markings. Some towns are already having the lines removed.

Road markings in the U.S. are governed by the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD), because apparently without federal standards the roads would fall into a state of anarchy.

Mark R. Kehrli, the director of the Office of Transportation Operations at the Federal Highway Administration, wrote to the Somerset County chief engineer to tell him that the blue lines violated federal regulations.

"Section 3A.06 of the MUTCD states that the pattern of a longitudinal double line shall be two parallel lines separated by a discernible space," Kehrli wrote. "For this space between the two lines to be discernible it must represent a lack of other markings. Accordingly, the pavement surface must be visible in the space between the lines in the same way that it is visible outside the lines. On this basis alone, filling in the gap in a double line, either partially or fully, does not comply with the provisions of the MUTCD."

The use of the color blue was also problematic. Kehrli cited a 2013 official ruling on "Application of Colored Pavement," which stated:

Blue is not a colored pavement and is not to be used as such in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Section 3G.01. Blue as it applies to a pavement marking is exclusively reserved for the background color in the international symbol of accessibility parking symbol (see Figure 3B-22) and for the supplemental pavement marking lines that define legal parking spaces reserved for use only by persons with disabilities as provided in Paragraph 5 of Section 3A.05.

"There are many appropriate and fitting ways to recognize service to the public that do not involve the modification of a traffic control device, which can put the road user at risk due to misinterpretation of its meaning," Kehrli wrote. The idea that a blue line in the middle of a road might be misinterpreted by anyone as signaling a disabled parking spot is preposterous, and a great illustration of the inanity of so many federal regulations.

An effort's already underway to get a state law that would permit municipalities to paint blue lines in the middle of the road, with Somerset County Sheriff Frank Provenzano lobbying state lawmakers about it. The president of the state PBA, meanwhile, criticized the FHA's priorities. "I hope the FHA has more important things on their to-do list," Patrick Colligan told NJ.com. Nevertheless, he said he supported Provenzano's efforts although he questioned the need to "legislate a blue line."

Colligan's questioning of the FHA's priorities work just as well, however, for the entire exercise. Don't municipalities, also, have more important things on their to-do lists than spending money to paint blue lines in the road? "Although absurd, we would paint over the approximately 200-foot line if required," the Howell police chief Andrew Kudrick told NJ.com. "I'll just paint the entire parking lot blue at the police department."

Semi-related: Last year, a state mandate requiring local jurisdictions to purchase body cameras was ruled unconstitutional because the state didn't cover the costs of the cameras. Although body cameras may be more expensive than painting blue lines (though that's far from certain given the inflated costs of government labor), avoiding symbolic expenditures leaves more of the money municipalities extract from their residents on the kinds of things, like body cameras, from which they might actually benefit.

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  1. Federal regulations are finally good for something.

    1. My thought exactly. Good to see actual governments getting The Treatment like this. I suspect that any larger lessons will go unlearned by the local busybodies.

      1. What treatment? Nothing happened to them.

    2. Bite your tongue!

      The MUTCD is the reason I own part of a company. The MUTCD had an addendum about 5-6 years ago that requires all municipalities to maintain the reflectivity of any sign they are responsible for. That means that every township up through states must put together records showing the gps location and the reflectivity of each sign they maintain.

      The company I am part of came to being just to let small townships, villages and towns comply with this nonsense. It is very hard for me to get excited about the company because the only reason it exists is because the Feds mandated some nonsense. This is mandated by the Feds but they gave no money out to pay for it. So all the small timers are shitting themselves about how they will comply.

      The even better news is that there are rumors that the Feds are now thinking that another good idea is mandate that the municipalities start measuring the reflectivity of the lines on all the roads they maintain.

      1. It’s OK to occasionally be happy about the right thing being done for the wrong reason.

        1. I get it. On one hand, I’m getting in on the gravy train that the Feds created. On the other hand, as a taxpayer, I know I’m getting screwed to pay for this nonsense. I haven’t figured out yet how the balance sheet works out.

          There are all sorts of people getting in on this one. From people who make fancy equipment to measure reflectivity to people training others in how to look at a sign and decide if it is reflective enough.

          1. Just wait until they mandate roadsigns for the blind.

            1. The blind in Tennessee will go absolutely nuts trying to read them, only to find out that the “braille” was just the result of a normal shotgun blast from the local hillbillies.

              1. Tennessee? Hell, my dad always carried a wee Taurus .22 revolver in the center console of his truck, for the express purpose of plinking at street signs in SW Florida.

          2. Loot while the lootin’s good, i guess.

      2. Perhaps the municipalities should have fewer signs.

        1. What about lines? Huh smarty? You libertarians probably want to use dotted lines everwhere just to save money. Right?

          1. There’s a running joke in the family about the time my brother-in-law (then a college student and only engaged to my sister) insisted to my dad that the dotted lines are something like 30 feet long. Dad actually stopped the car and got out to measure, which sounds dangerous to me.

      3. I get the point of ensuring signs are in good shape and all but it really isn’t a fed issue. It is a state issue. :/ Especially isn’t a fed issue when its towns.

        I get the Feds telling states this on interstate roads but beyond that its a gross over reach.

        I would understand states mandating this on towns in their state though.

      4. I get the point of ensuring signs are in good shape and all but it really isn’t a fed issue. It is a state issue. :/ Especially isn’t a fed issue when its towns.

        I get the Feds telling states this on interstate roads but beyond that its a gross over reach.

        I would understand states mandating this on towns in their state though.

        1. fuck squirrels. I see why these double post. It would be a simple fix if reason would set code blocking double clicks. (or triple clicks like mine yesterday)

          I click and think it didn’t register and click again and now 2 posts show up due to slow server :/

  2. The idea that a blue line in the middle of a road might be misinterpreted by anyone as signaling a disabled parking spot is preposterous, and a great illustration of the inanity of so many federal regulations.

    No, Ed. What’s preposterous is the forcing peaceful individuals at gun-point to pay for inherently political speech.

    1. Why would the two be mutually exclusive?

      1. Because old, senile people drive.

        1. I would caution against supporting unnecessary, meddling federal regulations into local minutiae just because they produce one result that you like.

          1. See below

            Except I expected more from you.

    2. It’s all pretty preposterous.

    3. +1 publically financed election

      1. Publicly financed erection:

        However, Medicare Part B currently covers pumps for erectile dysfunction under Durable Medical Equipment.

        http://www.senior65.com/medica…..ver-viagra

    4. They paint white and highly reflective yellow lines in the street is so people can fucking SEE them.

      Try seeing a blue line at night.

      Jaysus wept.

      1. They may be highly reflective where you are. In my area they are dull and disappear at night when the road is wet.

        1. They do dull somewhat on wet nights here. I have not so good night vision and still see them easily.

          But blue?

      2. Travelling for Christmas I discovered that they painted the road lines in the Milwaukee Zoo Interchange orange because it’s a construction zone. Tiny problem with that: you can’t see them in the rain or at night. Given that it was pouring rain and nighttime when I went through and the lanes aren’t straight (by virtue of being a construction zone), it was almost comedic to watch multiple lanes of interstate traffic drive all over the road.

    5. I can only imagine the horror of having to go to that govt meeting where they reviewed this shit.

      I bet there was one imbecile who really was confused about why they would use blue (because it made them think of a disabled spot). After 2 hours of trying to explain it to them, the less moronic decided to nix the idea because they were tired of it.

    6. First thing I was thinking, too.

  3. Why don’t they just give them the right to demand blow jobs from the local taxpayers?

    1. Well, given that when they do they are rarely reported or fired when they are reported, don’t they already have that right on a de facto basis?

      1. “Qualified immunity”

        1. But not from throat STDs!

        2. Is that what you learned in health class?

          I’m pretty sure that anyone can get herpes from a BJ.

    2. Because taxpayers have teeth?

  4. They don’t have this problem in Somalia. Because libertarianism!!

  5. “I’ll just paint the entire parking lot blue at the police department.”

    Also illegal.

    1. Handicapped can park anywhere!

    2. *hero sputters briefly* “But how am I supposed to express my fucking authority over you?!”

    1. I didn’t expect the facial hair.

    2. I didn’t expect him to look so much like H. Jon Benjamin.

  6. I wouldn’t confuse the blue line with a disabled parking space, but I would be pretty confused about what it was trying to tell me. It might be interpreted a permitting passing, for example. It seems like a pretty good idea to have uniform standards about what road markings mean so that people from out-of-town or out-of-state don’t get confused about them and cause accidents.

    1. It permits you to pass cars with handicap plates.

      1. Thank god, now I am for the blue line.

    2. It seems like a pretty good idea to have uniform standards about what road markings mean so that people from out-of-town or out-of-state don’t get confused

      Came here to post this. Whenever I’m in a new city or development or some such place it’s always really obvious to me the little differences in how little things like intersections and signage are handled, for example, and it’s very important that things be clear to someone who is driving on a road for the first time. Certainly having a different colored middle line wouldn’t be the apocalypse with cars smashing into each other willy-nilly, but it would be needlessly confusing.

  7. We should do something similar to show our appreciation for firefighters and change all the stoplights to red.

    1. What about honoring Gaia or Asians?

      Do you have a plan for them too?

      1. Over firefighters?!?!? Are you insane?

  8. Sessions will repair the damage done by the federal government to local law enforcement relations. And then, literal thin blue lines for everyone!

  9. Did I miss the part in the Constitution that gives Congress authority over locally owned roads?

    1. That interstate ship sailed a long time ago.

    2. A uniform set of guidlines seems like a good idea. But the authority to enforce it on local roads certainly isn’t in the constitution.

  10. There are many appropriate and fitting ways to recognize service to the public

    The goddamn paycheck is the only one they deserve.

    1. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it: if you’re getting a paycheck, it ain’t “service”.

      1. This x1040

        1. +1 “Do I have to file a Schedule C?”

      2. Then what the hell are we supposed to thank them for?

  11. I was unaware that there was a dearth of public acknowledgement when it comes to honoring our boys in blue.

    1. There is never enough. Not as long as that fucking 3rd Amendment is still around.

      1. The 3rd is an anachronism and should be repealed.

  12. Note that the Feds didn’t actually bother to ask them to “unpaint” the line.

    I am also unclear on whether painting the pavement black between the yellow lines meets the letter of the regulation. The pavement isn’t painted black on the outside of the lines.

    And do those regs apply to all streets, or just US Highways? Article 1, Section 8: To establish Post Offices and post Roads

    1. I suppose it applies to any road that delivers mail.

      1. If it saves one mail box . . . . . .

  13. War on Cops.

  14. Bah so much confusion.

    On the one hand the Feds are smacking down cop fellating, something that just can’t happen often enough. On the other hand What kind of a fucking moron do you have to be to think that we need someone in the Federal government to micromanage how road lines are painted and to have an actual goddamned regulation?

    1. It’s one of the few things I actually want the Feds to manage. I want road lines to mean the same thing wherever I go.

  15. On this “libertarian” board, it’s interesting to see that nearly all comments are to praise centralized usurpation of States’ Rights.

    1. Well, that’s an awfully mendacious reading.

      But no one expected anything more from you.

    2. Just because the FHA is giving its opinion doesn’t mean they are the ones doing the enforcing. NJ is a member of AASHTO and so has almost certainly adopted this regulation into its own code. If the lines are removed or painted over, it will be done by the state or local government, not the Federal one.

    3. Mostly the documentary Thin Blue Line made us all want to throw up and now we’re left wondering why any township would reference it in anything but a resignation letter.

  16. I love that the pic shows a couple of cops breaking the law. Proudly.

    1. I’ll just leave this here;
      http://photographyisnotacrime……it-online/

      1. Notice this hero is from Harris county, home of the kitty litter meth bust.

      2. Notice this hero is from Harris county, home of the kitty litter meth bust.

    2. The law doesn’t apply to police. Only department policy matters. So if there is nothing in the policy manual that says they can’t proudly break the laws that they are breaking in that picture, then they aren’t doing anything wrong. Duh.

  17. avoiding symbolic expenditures leaves more of the money municipalities extract from their residents on the kinds of things, like body cameras, from which they might actually benefit.

    They’re gonna need that money for pension checks, one of these day.

  18. Why don’t they just legislate everyone bowing in the direction of their nearest police station and praying five times a day while they’re at it?

    1. Blue Lives Mecca?

      1. “Pig worship is better than sleep.”

        1. Sort of the opposite of halal, innit?

          1. [ululating cry]

  19. Obviously they should be fined like they would fine anyone daring to repair-to-specifications anything deemed public.

    1. “Tonight, on “Battle of the Privileged Classes…”

  20. Funny that nobody ever wrote a letter informing localities that their rainbow colored crosswalks were a clear violation of the MUTCD.

  21. I would be pissed if some badge-kisser did this on my street in my name with my money without my consent. I don’t back the blue and I don’t care who knows it.

  22. Blue is not a colored pavement and is not to be used as such in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Section 3G.01. Blue as it applies to a pavement marking is exclusively reserved for the background color in the international symbol of accessibility parking symbol (see Figure 3B-22) and for the supplemental pavement marking lines that define legal parking spaces reserved for use only by persons with disabilities as provided in Paragraph 5 of Section 3A.05.

    What about those blue raised markers offset a foot or so from the center line which indicate there is a fire hydrant on that side of the road?

  23. Government overreach gets slapped down by government overreach: One of the few times a Libertarian can bask in the glorious irony. Enjoy it my friends!

  24. Arent stories supposed to have a protagonist? I dunno which is stupider, painting in the middle of the road to support NJ police, or the use of force to try and prevent people from doing so. I guess at worst the paintesters make you late for work, so there is that, but they’re also being insufferably pretentious. On the other hand the use of force (in the name of the state, of course) is a lot closer to being evil, which is probably worse.

    1. If there is any force being used, its by one government against the other. Would seem to reduce the evil quotient, to me.

      1. That’s true. I was reading sort of cursorarily at the gym, but I am glad to see my tax dollars being used so efficiently.

    2. Arent stories supposed to have a protagonist?

      Nah, that’s just literature. In real life it’s mostly just a bunch of idiots and/or busybodies bumbling around.

  25. A number of towns in New Jersey decided to paint blue lines in the middle of their roads as a show of support for local law enforcement (“the thin blue line”)

    *VOMIT*

  26. From the photo, it looks like they’re getting ready for a Swedish pride parade. Maybe IKEA is behind this?

  27. Seriously, though, fuck New Jersey.

    1. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that NJ isn’t the only state with overly self-important cops.

      1. Self-aggrandizement is a prerequisite for any law enforcement job. The city or state wouldn’t want anyone pulling motorists over who would say “Gee, maybe I was wrong, you weren’t speeding and that is mouth wash on your breath, so no ticket today”

      2. It’s the only state that is the primary subject of this article, however. In addition to all of the other terrible things about it.

  28. It’s also a retarded and empty gesture. The local government supports the police? No shit.

    1. Asset forfeiture supports both gangs of organized criminal looters.

  29. This story gave me the diarrhea.

    1. Okay, but that’s true of most things.

  30. In Austin Texas the folks on 32nd street off Guadalupe painted red, white and blue stars and stripes down the middle of their 2 blocks–this was circa 1969. The police raided every house and made a big stink, but you could still make out some of the artwork in 1984.

  31. . . . they’ve found that the practice violates federal regulations on road markings.

    Uhm, the MUTCD is not a *law*.

    Its a standards document. That’s it. Violation of the MUTCD can result in loss of Federal highway funds and that’s it. Its a law in the same way that ‘drive 55′ or ’21 to drink’ are/were laws.

    http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/kno-overview.htm

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