Weight restrictions go into effect – for nowUnseasonably warm temperatures are prompting county officials to place spring weight restrictions on county highways in recognition of thawing conditions.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Unseasonably warm temperatures are prompting county officials to place spring weight restrictions on county highways in recognition of thawing conditions.
The frozen road declaration is lifted at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
Weight restrictions, lifted Dec. 18, when Douglas County declared roads frozen means vehicles hauling peeled or unpeeled forest products registered for 80,000 pounds, or the maximum gross vehicle weight, if less than 80,000 pounds, could exceed those restrictions up to 98,000 pounds.
The weight restriction means divisible load permits, such as for pulpwood hauling or garbage transport, are suspended on all county highways and vehicles must not exceed 80,000 pounds.
Those lower weight restrictions are now imposed to protect highways from unnecessary wear and tear under thawing conditions.
However, even as the county is making adjustments to prevent damage to roadways, state legislators are considering a measure that would allow timber haulers to ignore the restrictions designed to keep the roads in good condition for all drivers.
A public hearing on the proposal was held Wednesday afternoon in Madison.
Douglas County Highway Commissioner Paul Halverson said he’s disappointed by the legislation.
Douglas County has struggled for years with its highway maintenance program because limited funding for necessary repairs lags behind need.
Halverson expects that struggle to get worse if the proposed legislation passes.
Currently only limited exemptions allow anyone to operate a vehicle on the highway that exceeds 80,000 unless roads are declared frozen.
However, the legislation would allow the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to issue permits for transportation of raw forest products with a gross weight of 98,000 pounds. The law strips away the local highway authorities to impose restrictions because of weakness of the roadbed due to deterioration, climate conditions, or other special or temporary conditions. Currently local highway officials can make those calls when conditions warrant them to avoid serious damage or destruction.
It basically allows timber haulers to ignore the rules, Halverson said.