Commercial companies and over-the-road truckers face seasonal weight restrictions that will go into effect tomorrow morning, but only a few routes in the region are actually impacted reduced weight rules, largely in more rural areas, not on the interstate system.
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and local agencies are enacting spring weight restrictions, an annual move to protect roads.
Effective at 8am tomorrow, Friday, Feb.19, weight restrictions will be imposed and enforced on all state trunkline highways from the Michigan/Indiana and Michigan/Ohio state line north to and including the entire stretch of I-96 at Grand Haven, east to and including I-69 from Lansing to Port Huron. State routes typically carry M, I, or US designations.
The only forced weight reductions in our region appear on the map below as red-dashed lines, as can be found on M-140 between Eau Claire and Niles and on M-152 and M-62 between Dowagiac and Cassopolis. There is also a reduced weight impact on a small piece of M-216 west of US-131 outside of Marcellus in Cass County.
MDOT crews say that when roads that have been frozen all winter begin to thaw from the surface downward, melting snow and ice saturate the softened ground. During the spring thaw, the roadbed softened by trapped moisture beneath the pavement makes it more susceptible to damage, similar to a sheet of glass supported by a waterbed. It's also the time of year when potholes begin forming due to the freeze-thaw cycle.
In the restricted areas, the following will apply:
- On routes designated as "all-season" (designated in green and gold on the MDOT Truck Operators Map), there will be no reduction in legal axle weights.
- On routes designated as "seasonal" (designated in solid or dashed red on the MDOT Truck Operators Map), there will be a posted weight reduction of 25 percent for rigid (concrete) pavements and 35 percent for flexible (asphalt) pavements.
- All extended permits will be valid for oversize loads in the weight-restricted area on the restricted routes. Single-trip permits will not be issued for any overweight loads or loads exceeding 14 feet in width, 11 axles and 150 feet in overall length on the restricted routes.
MDOT determines when weight restrictions begin each spring by measuring frost depths along state highways, observing road conditions, and monitoring weather forecasts. Weight restrictions remain in effect until the frost line is deep enough to allow moisture to escape and the roadbeds regain stability.
County road commissions and city public works departments put in place their own seasonal weight restrictions, which usually, but not always, coincide with state highway weight restrictions. Signs are generally posted to indicate which routes have weight restrictions in effect.
For weight restriction information and updates, call 800-787-8960, or you can access this information on MDOT's website at www.michigan.gov/truckers, under "Restrictions." All-season routes are designated in green and gold on the MDOT Truck Operators Map, which is available online. You also may sign up to receive e-mail alerts.
Trucking companies located in New Jersey and Canada can obtain information by calling 517-373-6256.
Here's an enlarged section of the Michigan trucker's map for our area: