EVESHAM TOWNSHIP, NJ - In October of last year, towns throughout New Jersey painted blue lines in the middle of downtown roads to show support for law enforcement, but the federal government says the lines are unsafe.
On New Road in Marlton, a blue line was painted in the middle of the street.
Evesham Township Mayor Randy Brown said, “You can come and try to take a blue line up but I’ll tell you right now, it's never going to happen as long as I’m mayor.”
Brown says the line was painted to show support for their township’s police officers
“So what were able to say in one simple blue line is, ‘Thank you. We are here to support you…forever.’”
But over the past few months, there has been controversy over similar lines painted in a number of other nearby New Jersey towns.
Recently, a letter from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration said the use of the blue lines is unsafe and towns should find another way to honor law enforcement.
But in Evesham, the mayor says the blue line will stay. “I didn't feel it affected us. Because we did it on a local road. We didn't do it on route 70 or route 73.”
Township officials say their officers get in police cars and they pass the thin blue line every single day on their way to and from work.
Lieutenant Joseph Friel told PHL17, “Every officer sees this. Every officer is reading in the paper how towns are being pressured to remove it… and to have our township, as they are with everything, to be behind us, it means a to to every officer, every man and woman in Evesham Police Department.”
A statement from the Federal Highway Administration to PHL17, ”…yellow lines down the center of a road are meant to control traffic and modification of that marking could cause confusion, accidents and fatalities. Our number one priority is the safety of all drivers.”
Right now its unclear if towns could be penalized for not removing the line.
Last month two New Jersey congressmen introduced legislation to allow towns to paint the blue strips under the proposed blue line use exception act.
Mayor Brown said, “If the DOT ever thinks they are going to come to Evesham and take up that blue line, they will be arresting me, and probably most of my community because we will lay on that blue line until we get arrested; and then once they leave we're going to put it right back down again.”