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Emergency Route Working Group (ERWG) Report of Recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation
December 2018

Appendix A: Best Practices and Other Noteworthy Activities

Best Practices and other Noteworthy Activities

Through the activities of the committee and research conducted as a result of the formation of the ERWG, a number of best practices and other noteworthy activities in emergency routing have been identified. These best practices and activities are described in the following table.

Best Practice Description Key Actors
Florida Emergency Road Use Permit Florida Executive Order 13-282 authorizes the Department of Transportation to relieve commercial vehicles transporting emergency equipment, services and supplies from normal restrictions on height, length, and width restrictions for such vehicles.

The Florida DOT issues a letter online that provides an emergency permit. Maximum dimensions allowed are fourteen (14) feet wide, fourteen (14) feet, six (6) inches high and ninety-five (95) feet long. The user of this permit is still required to obey posted restrictions for bridges and like structures. The emergency permit also allows movement of the vehicle at any time of day.

Lead: State DOT
Utility and Pole Truck Length Exemptions Minnesota Pole Truck Exemption - Public utility vehicles transporting poles that cannot be shortened, or truck transporting pole-length pulp woods can operate at lengths up to 75 feet.

Florida Utility Truck Exemption – Florida law provides a length limitation exemption for "Utility vehicles owned or operated by governmental entities or public utility corporations, or operated under contract with such entities or corporations". These allow the vehicle and load to be as much as 120 feet in overall length, provided proper flags and flashers are located at the rearmost end of the load. Florida law also provides the following exemption, "When transporting poles during emergencies or required maintenance. Such movements may be made on all days and at all hours, provided the respective daytime or nighttime requirements are otherwise met."

Wisconsin Utility Truck Exemption – Wisconsin law allows that vehicles may be operated without a permit for excessive length if the overall length does not exceed the indicated limitations of 120 feet for a 2−vehicle combination,used by a pipeline company or operator, public service corporation, municipal utility, or cooperative association…or by a motor carrier operating under contract with a pipeline company or operator, public service corporation, municipal utility, or cooperative association.

Illinois Emergency Exemption for Utilities – Illinois law provides size and weight exemptions to vehicles operated by a public utility when transporting equipment required for the emergency repair of public utility facilities or properties or water wells.

Michigan 70-Foot Timber Hauler Length Exception – Timber haulers transporting saw logs, pulpwood, and tree length poles can move trailers or semitrailers up to 70 feet in length and may be operated on Designated routes, including National Network routes.

Lead: State legislatures, State DOTs
Allowing Utility Convoys to Bypass Scales Louisiana has procedures to allow scale bypass to facilitate response to emergencies. For example, in response to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, enforcement officials issued a statement to utilities that allows bypass of scales for convoys of utility service when vehicles are in a convoy with their lights on. The importance of the crews reaching their destination safely and timely was deemed more critical than entering the scale facilities. Lead: State DOTs, Enforcement Officials

Supporting: Utilities

Harmonization of State Emergency Declaration Language North Carolina, Virginia and DC (region 3) are coming up with common language and a template for emergency declarations. Agreement between States on basic wording for these agreements should make it easier for those engaged in emergency response and recovery efforts to understand what waivers and special provisions are being provided. Lead: Governors Offices
Workbook of Emergency Declarations The National Governors Association (NGA) is preparing a workbook for Governors on emergency declarations. This should help States to use common and more basic wording to describe the exemptions and other emergency powers provided by emergency declarations. This will help with the crafting of more efficient emergency declarations that can be more easily communicated with emergency management stakeholders. Lead: NGA, Governors Offices
Harmonization of Permitting Practices Making oversize transportation rules and permitting requirements more consistent between States can make it easier for transportation providers to take advantage of exemptions provided or obtain permits when needed.

The Hurricane Sandy After Action Report found that even standardizing the language used and reducing the use of jargon would help. For instance, "waiver" was widely used by many agencies, but there was no consistent meaning.

Lead: FHWA, State DOTs

Supporting: Utilities, transportation providers, local permitting agencies

Provide Information for Transportation Providers to Determine Eligibility for Waivers Preparation of information resources for transportation providers prior to an emergency could facilitate emergency permitting during and after a major event. The Hurricane Sandy After Action Report found that "another challenge was having the right mix of permits to cover emergency situations. In New Jersey, for example, staff ended up evaluating eight common size/weight/configuration scenarios and posting the results online so that carriers could ascertain if they would qualify for a fee and permit review waiver. Additional configurations were identified in coordination with the fuel industry in response to widespread fuel shortages across both New Jersey and lower New York. These experiences were complicated post-landfall, and additional preparation would have been beneficial." Lead: State DOT
Automated Permitting Automated permitting significantly streamlines the permitting process. For example, ITAP Program has been identified as a model program. ITAP is an online system that allows carriers to login, apply for a permit, obtain routing and receive permission to move over State highways in minutes. In 2016, more than 230,000 permits were issued by the Illinois Department of Transportation, with 98.75% of those permits being fully automated.9 The Specialized Carrier and Rigging Association has documented that 30 States have automated permitting systems. Even States that have automated systems may still have a significant share of permits issued manually. Lead: Permitting Office
Develop Plans to Reduce Pinch Points Identify pinch points and make investments over time to eliminate the highest priority pinch points. For example, the Oregon Freight Plan has a strategy to identify the pinch points for over dimension loads called the Highway Over-Dimension Loads Pinch Points Study. They use this study to plan improvements that make the routing of over dimensional loads easier in all cases, including during emergencies. Lead: State DOT

Supporting: Transportation Providers

Interstate Jurisdictional Coordination States that route oversized loads may ignore constraints that occur across the State line in a neighboring State. For instance, a State DOT in one State may be unaware of planned construction in another State. Better and more formal communications with neighboring States can improve coordination of permitting and route planning with those States. The Canadian New West Partnership (NWP) is an example of a best practice. When one member province proposes a change to a regulation, all members are informed and have a chance to comment on the regulation. AASHTO could play a role in improving coordination.

(Source: NCHRP Report 830)


Support: Permitting Office

Integrate Local Permitting In some States, multiple agencies issue OS/OW permits – including State DOTs, bridge authorities and other transportation authorities. A number of States have pursued the integration of local OS/OW permits into their State permitting processes, whereby local permits are obtained through the State DOT. For example, local permits in Maryland are obtained from the Maryland DOT.

(Source: NCHRP Report 830)

Lead: State DOT

Supporting: Emergency management agencies (local, State), permitting offices

Improve Communications with Stakeholders Illinois DOT was identified by NCHRP as a State example of best practices in communication.

Illinois DOT's maintains an email list of 3,500 trucking and permitting individuals.

Illinois DOT also uses its automated permitting program ITAP to convey information to the industry. The State DOT places important information on the ITAP home page, highlighting changes affecting OS/OW operations such as bridge postings and changes in regulations.

Illinois DOT also maintains an interactive map called "Getting around Illinois," which includes roadway closures, limited clearances, weight restrictions, and construction affecting OS/OW operations. The interactive map is used by the industry to see the limitations they might encounter along an OS/OW route.

(Source: NCHRP Report 830)

Lead: State DOT

Supporting: Transportation providers, local permitting agencies

Develop Formal Regional Communication Regional communication between neighboring States is typically an informal process subject to OS/OW permitting officials knowing their counterparts in another State. The western provinces of Canada have developed an alternative to this informal arrangement called the NWP.

The NWP identified rules that hinder the free movement of goods, services, and people. The NWP has had some successes in harmonizing OS/OW regulations, including night move regulations, escort vehicle specifications, holiday restrictions, and escort vehicle warning signs.

The partnership identified OS/OW corridors in the region, when civilian escorts are required, and the weights allowed for OS/OW transportation. NWP is an example of removing barriers between jurisdictions and formalizing communication on regulatory issues.

When one NWP member is proposing a change to a regulation, all members look at the regulation. The NWP does the following:

Uses carriers and shippers from major industries to identify the biggest issues for OS/OW travel.

Developed close working relationships between permitting counterparts within member jurisdictions.

Forming and agreeing on a standardized notification and analysis process with other members to assess proposed measures and to keep officials up to date on what is occurring in the other jurisdiction.

(Source: NCHRP Report 830)

Lead: State DOT

9 Illinois Truck Enforcement Association. [ Return to Note 9 ]

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