Law impacts log haulers, transport of salt/abrasives for roads
Effective Friday (January 22) at 12:01 a.m., Wisconsin’s frozen road law will expand to include numbered state and federal highways within the areas designated by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) as Zones 2 and 3. The frozen road law is already in effect in Zone 1 in the far northern portion of Wisconsin. The frozen road determination for Zones 4 and 5 in the southern portion of the state will be made once conditions warrant.
The frozen road law allows heavier loads for trucks carrying peeled or unpeeled forest products cut crosswise (not including woodchips), and salt and sand for winter maintenance until approximately early March, unless thawing necessitates an earlier cancellation of the provision or continued cold weather allows for an extension of the declaration period. WisDOT and county highway personnel monitor temperature forecasts, along with frost tubes—liquid-filled devices under pavement—to help determine when roads are adequately frozen to accommodate heavier loads.
The declaration is issued once the ground under highway pavement is frozen to a depth of at least 18-inches, allowing the maximum gross weight for trucks hauling logs or salt and sand for maintaining roads in winter to go up to 98,000 pounds on vehicles with a minimum of five axles (from the normal 80,000 pounds). Special permits for hauling the increased weights are not required in Zones 1, 2 and 3, however, vehicles must be legally licensed at 80,000 pounds to handle the increased weights. The higher weight limits do not apply to county or local roads unless authorized by the local agency having maintenance authority. Also, higher weights may not be transported on any highways or bridges specifically posted for lower weight limits.
More information can be found on the DMV section of the WisDOT website under “Commercial license and vehicle” and by checking the Frozen Road Hotline at (608) 266-8417. Haulers with specific questions can contact WisDOT’s Oversize/Overweight Permits Unit at (608) 266-7320.