Freight Shipping and Heavy Haul Blog

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Navigating Federal and State DOT Oversized, Overweight Transport Permit Requirements

work-truck-transport When traveling through multiple states, loads are required to meet state standards of load restrictions, permitting requirements, and other state-by-state standards.

An oversized load is simply anything the exceeds the maximum weight, height, width, or length dimension established by federal and state standards. Easy right?

Traveling over federal interstates and other federally designated highways are subject to federal standards on weight, width, and length (there are no federal height restrictions.) Overlaying these standards are state standards which can vary state-to-state, and within each state, from road-to-road. The easy part of transporting heavy equipment, construction material, farm equipment, or specialized mobile units is the actual loading, securing, and transporting the load. The toughest part may prove to be navigating the restrictions and permitting processes required for a route.Typical permit requirements are triggered when the following dimensions are exceeded for a single load:

  • Height - exceeds 13’5”
  • Width - exceeds 8’5”
  • Length - exceeds 48’
  • Weight - exceeds 80,000 lbs

These dimensions are starting points when determining if a load falls under Department of Transportation over-sized permitting requirements. These vary by state, by road, by federal exception, grandfathered standards or other federal, state, or even local requirements and restrictions.

For example, permitting questions to transport a oversized load through Kentucky takes into consideration the following the Kentucky Department of Transportation standards:

  • Multi-lane highway versus two-lane
  • Travel time restrictions
  • Holiday restrictions
  • Escort requirements for two versus 4-lane highways
  • Power unit flax, signing, and lighting requirements
  • Current detours, restrictions, and closures
  • Hauling coal or coal-products
  • Superloads
  • Single trip versus annual permits

When traveling through multiple states, loads are required to meet state standards of load restrictions, permitting requirements, and other state-by-state standards.

This is the tip of the iceberg. There are many more details then the basics presented here to be aware of when making final routing and permitting decisions. Understanding the multiple, overlapping, and changing oversized load transporting requirements is critical to meeting federal and state regulations.

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Wednesday, 30 September 2020

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01 February 2019

Almost anything can be transported over the roads, highways, and interstates of America. Construction equipment, building materials, carnival equipment, yachts, mobile homes, and stretch limos! That’s called heavy hauling. Then there’s freight shipping that covers the transport of commodities, merchandise goods and cargo. If it’s on a pallet, it’s freight shipping.

07 April 2019

Determining If Your Cargo Shipment Requires An Over-Dimensional Transport Permit

Moving cargo that exceeds overland weight, height, or length shipping standards requires planning, permitting, and patience. Not to mention a bigger budget. With technical exemptions, legislative changes, and changing road conditions, navigating the over-dimensional permitting and logistical process is complex. And, if you’re transporting an overweight or wide load through multiple states, the complexity soars. Truth is though, even transporting a wide load from one interstate off ramp to off ramp requires adherence to state limits, permitting requirements, scheduling restrictions.

Here are three key points to consider to determine your freight transport permitting requirements:

  1. Know your cargo metrics - Knowing the length, width, height, and weight of your cargo is the first step. Getting it right could mean the difference between jumping through permit hoops or not.
  2. Know the over-dimensional standards for your scheduled route - Overlaying the load metrics with route requirements will identify if any of your metrics exceeds any of the over-dimensional limits for any part of your route. But it’s not the final answer.
  3. Know if a Wide-Load/Over-Dimensional Permit is needed - The final decision is not as simple as knowing your load’s metrics and any one state’s baseline over-sized transport standards. Factors range from the type of transport vehicle to the time of year your shipping to grandfathered exemptions.

There is a lot that goes into each of these steps. Expertise and experience will help you get the best final answer for your shipment.

Over-dimensional transport logistics can be complicated. But with knowledge and planning, and a reputable, experienced transport company, oversize load management can meet scheduling and budget requirements.

We’ll be discussing the details in navigating the process in upcoming posts.

14 April 2019

Transporting loads that exceed height, weight, or length standards such as construction, military, agricultural equipment, for over the road shipping presents routing, permitting, and scheduling challenges. Shipping oversized and over-dimensional equipment and freight requires adherence to numerous rules, restrictions, and regulations. Understanding and navigating shipping requirements is challenging but necessary for safe, legal, and efficient transport of any over-dimensional loads.

States are required by the federal government to regulate loads that exceed height, weight, and length standards. Each state has the authority to set standards to meet the unique conditions in that state. Heavy or wide loads shipped within or through a state are subject to different laws, regulations, and restrictions in each state. Add to this the changing road conditions unique to each state, city, and town, and oversized shipment planning becomes a complex puzzle.

Optimizing routing for an over-dimensional load takes planning and expertise. Areas of jurisdiction of federal and state Department of Transportation regarding flatbed loads that exceed certain restrictions include:

  • Weight, height, length,and gross weight of a shipment
  • Per-Axle weight restrictions
  • State permits may include:
    • Single trip, multiple trip, or annual permit
    • City and/or county permits
    • Farm machinery transport
    • Permit-to-operate
  • Seasonal weight/travel restrictions
  • Drive-time restrictions including holiday, weekend, nighttime limitations
  • Escort and pilot vehicles requirements
  • Safety banners, lights, flagging and other signage requirements
  • Route restrictions due to construction, closed roads, etc.

These and more affect how, when, and where a heavy or wide load can be transported. Knowing these and building them into your shipping plan is critical to good project management.

Transporting under an oversized load permit can be challenging but it is often the most efficient way to transport equipment, building materials, and machinery in many situations. Piecing together a route that meets the variety of transport rules and regulations can make or break a budget or a schedule. Ensuring compliance can help your project stay in the black and meet on-time delivery schedules.

23 April 2019

Wide Load Metrics – Straight-Forward But Variable

Of all the metrics that determine if a cargo load meets over-dimensional shipping criteria, width is the most straight-forward measurement to deal with. Why? Because unlike the other freight shipping metrics of length, height, and weight that go into determining if an over-dimensional permit, or permits, are required, width is the one measurement that is fairly uniform from state to state. Height, weight, and length regulations vary enough between states that determining if, as well as where, when, and how over-dimensional permits are required is a complex business.

If anything that measure more than 102 inches or 8 feet 5 inches, in width, your cargo most likely meets over-dimensional permitting requirements in all states.

But you’re not going to get off completely easy. When it comes to road transportation, road conditions and restrictions make it a requirement that every mile of your route is reviewed to determine if the 102-inch maximum width criteria holds from start to end of your shipping itinerary.

Over width load regulations change according to many factors, and can be reduced on any part of your route due to things such as:

  • Bridges - the presence of, and condition of, bridges,
  • Lane width – these can vary from one mile to the next; interstate to rural route
  • Non-designated roads – specific roads can reduce the width limit to 8 feet and below
  • Seasonal restrictions – many states have changing over width criteria in different seasons

And then there are the federal and state exemptions from over dimensional permits for “special mobile equipment” which includes military or farm equipment; road constructions or maintenance machinery, emergency apparatus and equipment, etc.

So you see, even the simplest over dimensional permitting metric is not, in the end, simple. The planning and logistics of flatbed transport starts with cargo measurement. From there, it’s the state-by-state, mile-by-mile route investigation establishing if your shipment exceeds any over width criteria along any portion of the route.

It can be complicated, but an expert effort is worth it – knowing your permit and route restrictions is best known before the load hits the road.

17 May 2019

Do I Need an Escort Vehicle?

If you have load that meets the criteria as an oversized transport, the next consideration is whether or not it will require escort vehicles for some or all of the route. And, as with all other rules of heavy load transportation, each state has it’s one set of pilot car requirements. Within each state these same rules and regulations for escort vary by season, changing road conditions, time restrictions, and other variables. This adds complexity to establishing whether a part of the entire transportation route requires escort vehicle.

Here a few state specific pilot car requirements:

  • Most states do not require an escort for loads equal to or less than 10 feet wide; however, a few states requires escorts for all oversize loads,
  • The number of escort vehicles required may be determined by the absolute measurements of the wide load and/or the type of materials being transported.
  • Depending on the type of road being traveled, escorts vehicles may be required in the front and back of the wide-load, or only in the back.
  • Within a state, escort requirements may change moving from a multi-lane highway to a two-lane.
  • Some states requires escorts for all oversized loads if transporting during the night, regardless of the general pilot cars requirements.
  • Crossing from a state with no escort requirements for a particular load, into a state with escort requirements for the same load, required escort vehicles to meet the oversized load at the state line.
  • Extra-wide loads, as defined by each state, may require an escort by law enforcement.

The point here is that even a short route within a single state may require changes in escort requirements for an over-dimensional haul. A route for an oversized load must be thoroughly researched and planned for in order to meet escort and pilot car requirement.

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