January 21, 1998
You have the following question: Can the city amend its truck weight ordinance to prohibit through truck traffic from using Road A to Road B inside the city, and exempt from the ordinance trucks leaving the landfill, delivery and pick-ups at a certain business?
Under the facts you related to me in your faxed letter of January 15, 1998, I do not know the answer. I cannot follow the map that accompanied the letter and the ordinance because none of the roads in question, and only one of the points numbered in the legend, show up, and I have no concept of the road network involved. The same thing applies to the present truck weight and routes ordinance. For those reasons, I do not have a picture of what the city is trying to do and what implications changing the truck routes through the city has on truck traffic.
However, I can give you some general guidelines governing municipal truck regulations. First, municipalities probably can pass regulations governing truck traffic, including weight and routes. Second, the regulations must be reasonable. Third, the regulations must leave reasonable alternate routes through the city and must not otherwise unduly burden interstate commerce.
There is no express statutory authority for a municipality to pass weight limits on motor vehicles using its streets, but Town of Smyrna v. Plish, Tn. Ct. App., MS, filed August 1, 1985, and Tennessee Attorney General’s Opinion 243, dated September 15, 1982, support the theory that municipalities can pass such regulations. [Also see Collier v. Baker, 27 S.W.2d 108 (1930); Brimer v. Municipality of Jefferson City, 216 S.W.2d 1 (1948); Paris v. Paris Henry County Utility District, 340 S.W.2d 885 (1960), all of which declare that the police powers of a municipality to control its streets is broad.]
Your present 1992 ordinance regulating truck weights appears to be reasonable. It contains certain street exemptions to insure that trucks exceeding the weight limit can make necessary deliveries over those streets, and apparently leaves open alternative routes for trucks that exceed it weight limits to move though the city. Unfortunately, I cannot say whether the routes prescribed for trucks that exceed weight limits are in other ways too inconvenient to be reasonable. If those are not problems with the ordinance, presumably it does not unduly burden interstate commerce. The same things are true with respect to the proposed changes in the ordinance.
Let me know if I can help you further in this or any other matter.
Sidney D. Hemsley
Senior Law Consultant