Chapter 189 of PennDOT regulations govern operation of vehicles in excess of posted weight limits. These regulations should apply to operation of vehicles on township roads and other local roads that a municipality has posted maximum weight limits, as well as weight limit roads posted by the state. The regulations discussed in this article apply to bridges located on posted highways, but do not apply to bridges posted independently of highways.
Local Traffic Exemption
The regulations provide a local traffic exemption for vehicles and combinations used in the course of servicing a farm, residence or business, which is either located along a posted road or which can only be accessed through use of a posted road. In either situation, the vehicle qualifying for the exemption may exceed the posted weight limit for that particular road, unless the posting authority determines that the posted road will likely be damaged through normally expected use of “local” vehicles in excess of weight limits.
Vehicles operating under the local traffic exemption, must furnish evidence that the vehicle is local traffic. Acceptable evidence includes:
· A bill of lading, shipping order or similar document which shows the destination on the posted highway.
· Certification by the permittee or an official of a permittee company on the company letterhead describing the local traffic nature of the activity which the vehicle is engaged in.
It is important to note that the "local traffic" exemption does not apply if the farm, residence or business being serviced can be accessed by any route that avoids operation of the vehicle on a posted road (regardless of the additional distance the truck must travel in avoiding posted roads).
The regulations require the posting authority that is revoking the local traffic exemption on a posted road to notify the farms, residences and businesses affected and owners of vehicles that have been regularly used on the posted road, as well as notifying the State and local police. After two business days following delivery of the notice (or five days after the notice is mailed), no vehicle may exceed the road’s posted weight limit unless the vehicle has a permit authorizing the vehicle to be used on that road above the weight limit.
The following permits are available from PennDOT under Chapter 189:
· Type 1 Permit – Authorizes use of a particular posted highway or portion thereof by an over-posted-weight vehicle. It is valid only when carried in the over-posted-weight vehicle.
· Type 2 Permit – Authorizes use of a particular posted highway or portion thereof by any number of over-posted-weight vehicles being driven to or from a common destination. In addition:
o Documents (as specified above) must be carried validating local traffic status.
o Permits will only be issued upon request and if the posting authority determines that issuing a Type 1 permit is not feasible for each vehicle.
· Type 3 – Authorizes the use of a number of specified posted highways or portions thereof by an over-posted-weight vehicle. In addition:
o Permit is valid only when carried in the over-posted-weight vehicle.
o Permit is issued only if the posting authority determines that damage to the posted highway covered by the permit will be minimal because of the limited number of moves by over-posted-weight vehicles and short-term use of the highways anticipated by the permittee.
Excess Maintenance Agreements
When permits are issued to exceed posted weight limit or limits, the permittee must accept financial responsibility for excess maintenance of the posted highway or portion used by the permittee.
The agreement may provide for the work to be performed by the posting authority or its contractor or by the permittee or its contractor, except in the case of a self-bonded agreement, the department will require all work be performed by the permittee or its contractor.
Permit holders are required to post a security in favor of the posting authority to assure compliance with maintenance agreements. Securities may be in the form of performance bonds with surety by a company authorized to do business in the Commonwealth, or in the form of a certified or cashier’s check, bank account, irrevocable letter of credit in favor of the posting authority or in some other form of acceptable security.
The Department of Transportation is required to at least annually publish a revised schedule of bonding amounts based on increased or decreased maintenance costs. The bond amounts are as follows:
For Type 1 and Type 2 permits:
· $6,000 per linear mile for unpaved highways to be maintained at a level consistent with that type of highway
· $12,500 per linear mile for any highway which the posting authority allows to be maintained below a level consistent with the type of highway.
For Type 3 permits:
· $10,000 for each county or municipality covered by the permits.
· There is a $15 fee for each permit.
When the amount or damage in excess of normal maintenance to a posted highway is estimated by the posting authority to constitute 75% or more of the amount of the security, the posting authority may require the highway to be maintained or reconstructed within 30 days unless the permittee agrees to provide additional security determined by the posting authority.
When there are multiple permit holders who wish to obtain Type 1 or 2 permits to operate over-posted-weight vehicles on the same posted highways (or portions of posted highways), they may agree amongst themselves as to their relative responsibility for the cost of excess maintenance and the posting authority will enter into agreements and accept security on the basis of the agreed shares. If an agreement cannot be reached, the posting authority will determine their relative shares.
Determining Highway Condition
Representatives of the posting authority and of the permittee(s) will make onsite inspections of the posted highway immediate before the issuance of a permit to determine the highway condition.
Posted highways will be reinspected when new permits are issued, if the posting authority determines that repairs may be needed, and if a permit is terminated in order to determine the amount of damage for which the permittee(s) are responsible.
For Type 3 permits, posted highways specified in the permit must be inspected before and after using the permit to determine relative road condition and assess any excess maintenance caused by the permittee(s).
All inspection and reinspection costs will be paid by the permittee(s).