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Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) Truck Size and Weight Provisions

Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) Truck Size and Weight Provisions Memorandum

Questions and Answers Full List [Updated December 7, 2016]

Milk Products (FAST Act Section 1409)

Question 1: Are vehicles carrying fluid milk products considered non-divisible loads?

Answer 1: Yes. The FAST Act amended Section 127(a) of title 23, United States Code, to reflect that a vehicle carrying fluid milk products shall be considered a load that cannot be easily dismantled or divided (non-divisible).

Question 2: May States issue overweight permits for vehicles carrying fluid milk products that exceed the 80,000 pounds gross weight or the maximum Federal bridge formula limit for the Interstate System?

Answer 2: Yes. A State may, in accordance with applicable State laws and at its discretion, issue non-divisible load permits for vehicles carrying fluid milk products.

Question 3: Is there a maximum weight limit for a non-divisible load permit for fluid milk products?

Answer 3: No. The FAST Act does not set a maximum weight limit. Non-divisible load permits for vehicles carrying fluid milk products should be issued in accordance with applicable State laws.

Question 4: What guidelines can States use to determine whether and when they should issue a non-divisible load permit for vehicles carrying fluid milk products?

Answer 4: States are responsible for establishing guidelines and conditions for the issuance of non-divisible load permits. States are encouraged to establish guidelines that consider achieving the outcomes of preventing premature deterioration of highway pavements and structures and providing a safe driving environment. States should take notice that 23 CFR 650 Subpart C requires load rating and posting (if necessary) of bridges for unrestricted routine permit loads.

Question 5: Are there any reporting requirements associated with the issuance of a non-divisible load permit for a vehicle carrying fluid milk products?

Answer 5: Yes. Under 23 CFR 657.9, a State's plan for vehicle size and weight enforcement must include identification of policies and practices addressing permits for overweight vehicles and loads. Administrative directives, booklets, or other written criteria shall be included in the State's enforcement plan. In addition, the annual certification described in 23 CFR 657.15 requires States to report the number of permits issued for overweight loads. Those reports must specify the number of permits issued for divisible and non-divisible loads, and whether the permits were issued on a per-trip or annual basis.

Question 6: How do State enforcement officials determine if a vehicle is transporting fluid milk products?

Answer 6: Roadside enforcement of this provision should be done in accordance with State procedures and guidelines established to verify non-divisible load permits. If there are no guidelines or procedures in place, verification can be accomplished through methods that include, but are not limited to, a visible inspection of the vehicle and load, or examination of shipment documentation such as a bill of lading.

Question 7: What is an example of a vehicle carrying fluid milk products?

Answer 7: A "Bulk Milk Hauler Pickup Tanker" (reference: U.S. Food & Drug Administration-Pasteurized Milk Ordinance 2007), is an example of a vehicle carrying fluid milk products. A "Bulk Milk Hauler Pickup Tanker" is a vehicle that transports raw milk from a farm and/or raw milk products to or from a milk plant, receiving station or transfer station.

Interstate Weight Limits (FAST Act Section 1410)

Question 1: What is a "Covered Heavy-Duty Tow and Recovery Vehicle?"

Answer 1: A "Covered Heavy-Duty Tow and Recovery Vehicle" is a vehicle that is transporting a disabled vehicle from the place where the vehicle became disabled to the nearest appropriate repair facility and has a gross vehicle weight that is equal to or exceeds the gross vehicle weight of the disabled vehicle being transported.

Question 2: Are Covered Heavy-Duty Tow and Recovery Vehicles subject to Federal weight limitations?

Answer 2: No. The vehicle weight limitations set forth in 23 U.S.C. 127 do not apply to a covered heavy-duty tow and recovery vehicle. However, States will need to establish guidelines for the safe operation of these vehicles on Interstate highway bridges consistent with the requirements of 23 CFR 650 Subpart C on load rating and posting, and any applicable State standards on vehicle weight limitations.

Question 3: Is a tow truck subject to the Federal weight limits when it is not transporting a disabled vehicle?

Answer 3: Yes. A tow truck, when not transporting a disabled vehicle, is subject to the Federal weight limits under 23 U.S.C 127.

Question 4: How will the Federal weight limits affect vehicles in the State of Texas on any segment of United States Route 59, United States Route 77, United States Route 281, United States Route 84, Texas State Highway 44, or another roadway once such segments are designated as Interstate Route 69?

Answer 4: A vehicle that could operate legally on such a segment before the date of designation as Interstate Route 69 may continue to operate on that segment without regard to the weight requirements of 23 U.S.C. 127.

Question 5: What is a "Covered Logging Vehicle" in the State of Wisconsin?

Answer 5: A Covered Logging Vehicle is a vehicle that is transporting raw or unfinished forest products, including logs, pulpwood, biomass, or wood chips, has a gross vehicle weight of not more than 98,000 pounds; has no fewer than 6 axles; and is operating on a segment of Interstate Route 39 in the State of Wisconsin from mile marker 175.8 to mile marker 189.

Question 6: Are Covered Logging Vehicles in the State of Wisconsin subject to Federal weight limitations?

Answer 6: No. The Federal vehicle weight limitations set forth in 23 U.S.C. 127 do not apply to Covered Logging Vehicles in the State of Wisconsin.

Question 7: What are the Federal size and weight limits for United States Route 63 between the exits for highways 14 and 75 in the State of Arkansas if any segment of this route is designated as part of the Interstate System?

Answer 7: The single axle weight, tandem axle weight, gross vehicle weight, and Bridge Formula limits under 23 U.S.C. 127(a), and the width limitation under 49 U.S.C. 31113(a) do not apply to any such segment with respect to the operation of any vehicle that could legally operate on such segment before the designation of the route as an Interstate.

Question 8: What are the Federal weight limits on certain logging vehicles in the State of Minnesota?

Answer 8: A logging vehicle in the State of Minnesota is not subject to Federal weight limits if it is: transporting raw or unfinished forest products, including logs, pulpwood, biomass, or wood chips; has a gross vehicle weight of not more than 99,000 pounds; has no fewer than 6 axles; and is operating on a segment of Interstate Route 35 in the State of Minnesota from mile marker 235.4 to mile marker 259.552.

Question 9: What is an "Emergency Vehicle"?

Answer 9: An Emergency Vehicle is a vehicle designed to be used under emergency conditions to transport personnel and equipment to support the suppression of fires and to mitigate other hazardous situations.

Question 10: What are the Federal weight limits for an Emergency Vehicle?

Answer 10: A State shall not enforce against an emergency vehicle a weight limit (up to a maximum gross vehicle weight of 86,000 pounds) of less than: 24,000 pounds on a single steering axle; 33,500 pounds on a single drive axle; 62,000 pounds on a tandem axle; or 52,000 pounds on a tandem rear drive steer axle. However, States must consider these vehicle weight limits when load rating and posting highway bridges to maintain compliance with 23 CFR 650, Subpart C.

Question 10(a): Do the weight allowances in 23 USC 127(r) apply to emergency vehicles in transport from the manufacturer in drive-away operation?

Answer 10(a): Yes. The weigh allowances in 23 USC 127(r) apply to emergency vehicles being driven from the final stage manufacturing facility. However, they must obey all weight restrictions when a bridge or tunnel cannot safely carry the loads prescribed in 23 USC 127(r).

Question 11: What is the Federal Weight Limit for Natural Gas Vehicles?

Answer 11: A Natural Gas Vehicle, if operated by an engine fueled primarily by natural gas, may exceed any vehicle weight limit (up to a maximum gross vehicle weight of 82,000 pounds) under 23 U.S.C. 127 by an amount that is equal to the difference between: the weight of the vehicle attributable to the natural gas tank and fueling system carried by that vehicle; and the weight of a comparable diesel tank and fueling system.

Question 12: Is the weight allowance only for Gross Vehicle Weight (up to 82,000 pounds)?

Answer 12: No. The Single Axle, Tandem Axle and Bridge formula weights may be exceeded by an amount that is equal to the difference between: the weight of the vehicle attributable to the natural gas tank and fueling system carried by that vehicle; and the weight of a comparable diesel tank and fueling system.

Question 13: May the weight allowance for the Idle Reduction Technology/Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) of up to 550 pounds, be added to the weight allowance for the Natural Gas Vehicle?

Answer 13: Yes. For example, if a Natural Gas Vehicle with a 2,000-pound allowance for fuel systems has a 550 pound APU, the total weight of these allowances would be 2,550 pounds.

Question 14: Does the weight allowance for Natural Gas Vehicles preempt State enforcement of State weight limits on all highways?

Answer 14: No. The Natural Gas Vehicle allowance does not preempt State enforcement of State weight limits on all highways; rather, it prevents the FHWA from imposing funding sanctions if a State authorizes the additional weight limit on its Interstate system. Therefore, it remains for each State to decide whether it will allow the increased weight limits for Natural Gas Vehicles. However, a State must adhere to the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 127(s) if it chooses to allow the additional weight.

Question 15: Are there any other programs impacted by the weight provisions of this section?

Answer 15: The FAST Act's truck size and weight provisions may impact highway bridge and tunnel safety. Of particular importance are the potential impacts on bridge and tunnel load rating and posting. A portion of the national bridge inventory, especially those bridges originally designed for vehicular live loading lower than AASHTO HS-20, and those bridges with capacity reduced by deterioration or structural modifications, may require load posting for the additional loads allowed by the FAST Act.

Question 16: What actions must a State take to implement these provisions?

Answer 16: States may need to update their statutes, regulations, and procedures to implement these provisions regarding vehicle weights, as appropriate. In addition, the rating vehicles a State uses for load rating and posting calculations may need to be updated, and agencies responsible for vehicle weight enforcement and posted bridge enforcement may need to update their procedures and enforcement practices.

Question 17: When do the new provisions take effect? Can we start implementation now?

Answer 17: The effective date of the amendments made in the FAST Act is October 1, 2015 unless otherwise specified. References to the "date of enactment" are to December 4, 2015.

Implementation guidance not covered in this memorandum or issues that are specific to a State, should be directed to the FHWA Division Office Truck Size and Weight Specialist in your State. A list of FHWA Division Office Truck Size and Weight Specialists is available at http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/sw/contact/index.htm#fhwa.

Question 18: Where are resources available for Vehicle Size and Weight?

Answer 18: FHWA has numerous resources available at http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/sw/index.htm.

Automobile Transporter (FAST Act Section 5520)

Question 1: May Automobile Transporters transport cargo or general freight on a backhaul?

Answer 1: Yes. An Automobile Transporter is not prohibited from the transport of cargo or general freight on a backhaul, as long as it complies with weight limitations for a truck tractor and semitrailer combination.

Question 2: What are the weight limitations for an Automobile Transporter hauling cargo or general freight on a backhaul?

Answer 2: An Automobile Transporter must comply with the weight limitations for a truck tractor and semitrailer combination mandated in 23 U.S.C. 127(a).

Question 3: What is a "backhaul"?

Answer 3: The term "backhaul" refers to the return trip of a vehicle transporting cargo or general freight, especially when carrying goods back over all or part of the same route.

Question 4: How may roadside enforcement officials verify a backhaul trip?

Answer 4: Law enforcement personnel may review the bill of lading for the part of the trip that occurred prior to the backhaul.

Question 5(revised) : What is the effect of the new provisions relating to stinger-steered automobile transporters? [49 U.S.C. 31111(b)(1)(G)]

Answer 5 (revised): A State may not prescribe or enforce a vehicle length limitation of less than 80 feet on a stinger-steered automobile transporter. The FAST Act provides for a front overhang allowance of up to 4 feet and a rear overhang allowance of up to 6 feet. The 4 foot front and 6 foot rear overhang allowances are in addition to the overall 80 foot length allowance.

Question 6: How does the provision affect reasonable access as provided in 23 CFR 658.19?

Answer 6: Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 31114, automobile transporters have had and therefore will continue to have reasonable access to the National Network (NN). States may continue to regulate their length when no portion of a movement is on the NN.

Question 7 (revised): Does the backhaul provision apply to all automobile and boat transporters?

Answer 7 (revised): Yes. Both traditional automobile and boat transporter combinations and stinger-steered auto transporter combinations may haul cargo on a backhaul. [49 U.S.C. 31111(a)(1) and (5)]

Question 8 (revised): What actions may a State take to implement the changes the FAST Act made to 49 U.S.C. 31111?

Answer 8 (revised): A State may need to update its statutes, regulations, and procedures to implement the FAST Act changes regarding lengths and backhaul. In addition, an enforcement agency may need to update its procedures and enforcement practices. Regarding the amended length provisions for stinger-steered automobile transporters, a State may not impose a vehicle length limitation of less than 80 feet on a stinger-steered automobile transporter, not including the additional front and rear overhang allowances, as described in Answer 5. [49 U.S.C. 31111(b)(1)(G)]

Question 9 (NEW): What is the effect of deleting the word “specifically” from the definition of automobile transporter (49 U.S. Code § 31111 (a)(1)) and the length allowances for high mount vehicle combinations?

Answer 9: Deleting the word "specifically" does not change the design characteristics of an automobile transporter, which is specialized equipment under 23 CFR 658.13(e)(1). The purpose of the FAST Act amendments to the definition of automobile transporter at 49 U.S.C. 31111(a)(1) is to allow the use of an automobile transporter to transport cargo or general freight during a backhaul pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 31111(a)(1) and (5). This is evinced by the deletion of the word "specifically" and the explicit recognition of transport by backhaul under 31111(a)(1).

Question 10 (NEW): Are truck tractor-semitrailers that carry automobiles on the semitrailer (e.g., high mount vehicle combinations) now considered "automobile transporter" specialized equipment under the FAST Act?

Answer 10: No. In order to be considered specialized equipment, the entire vehicle combination must be designed for the transportation of assembled highway vehicles, including truck camper units, and must include a power unit equipped with a rack. If the power unit is not also designed and equipped with vehicle-carrying capability, the combination is not considered specialized equipment and is subject to the provisions found in 23 CFR 658.13(a), (b), and (c).

Question 11 (NEW): Do the length provisions in Section 5520 of the FAST Act affect traditional automobile transporters?

Answer 11: No. The FAST Act did not change the length provisions for traditional automobile transporters. A State may not impose an overall length limitation of less than 65 feet on traditional automobile (fifth wheel located on tractor frame over rear axle(s)), including "low boys." In addition, length provisions regarding traditional automobile transporters do not include front and rear cargo overhang allowances. A State may not impose a front overhang limitation of less than 3 feet or a rear overhang limitation of less than 4 feet. Extendable ramps or "flippers" on automobile transporters that are used to achieve the allowable 3-foot front and 4-foot rear cargo overhangs are excluded from the measurement of vehicle length. Flippers must be retracted when not supporting vehicles. [23 CFR 658.13 (e)(1)(i) and (ii)]

Question 12 (NEW): What is the overhang allowance for truck tractor semitrailers that can only carry automobiles on the semi-trailer and are subject to the provisions of 23 CFR 658.13(a), (b), and (c)?

Answer 12: Truck tractor semitrailers subject to the provisions of 23 CFR 658.13(a), (b), and (c) are not allowed the 3-foot front, and 4-foot rear, overhang permitted for specialized equipment – automobile transporters. As explained in Answer 9 above, the FAST Act amendments do not affect the design characteristics of automobile transporters, and FHWA's existing position regarding overhang for high mount vehicle combinations remains in effect. Such vehicle combinations are subject to the provisions of 23 CFR 658.13 (a).

Question 13 (NEW): How do the provisions in Section 5520 affect stinger-steered “boat transporters” as defined in 23 CFR 658.13(e)(2)?

Answer 13: Stinger-steered boat transporters are specialized equipment. The length allowances and provisions for stinger-steered auto transporters in Section 5520 of the FAST Act apply to stinger-steered boat transporters. The FAST Act prohibits a State from prescribing and enforcing a vehicle length limitation of less than 80 feet on a stinger-steered automobile transporter, not including the additional front and rear overhang allowances, as described in Answer 5. [49 U.S.C. 31111(b)(1)(G)] These same provisions apply to stinger-steered boat transporters.

Question 14 (NEW): Do the length provisions in Section 5520 of the FAST Act affect traditional boat transporters?

Answer 14: No. The FAST Act did not change provisions for traditional boat transporters. A State may not impose an overall length limitation of less than 65 feet on traditional boat transporters, as defined by 23 CFR 658.5 and 658.13(e)(2) (fifth wheel located on tractor frame over rear axle(s)), including "low boys." In addition, a State may not impose an overall length limitation of less than 65 feet on truck-trailer boat transporters. For traditional boat transporters, length provisions do not include front and rear overhang allowances. Further, a State may not impose a front overhang limitation of less than 3 feet or a rearmost overhang limitation of less than 4 feet. [23 CFR 658.13(e)(2)(i) and (ii)]

Commercial delivery of light- and medium-duty trailers (FAST Act Section 5523)

Question 1: What are the length limitations of a towaway trailer transporter combination?

Answer 1: No State may impose an overall length limitation of less than 82 feet on a towaway trailer transporter combination.

Question 2: Are there any other limitations on a "Towaway Trailer Transporter Combination?"

Answer 2: The "towaway trailer transporter combination" consists of a "trailer transporter towing unit" and 2 trailers or semitrailers with a total weight that does not exceed 26,000 pounds and in which the trailers or semitrailers carry no property and constitute inventory property of a manufacturer, distributor, or dealer of such trailers or semitrailers.

Question 3: May the "trailer transporter towing unit" carry cargo?

Answer 3: No. The "trailer transporter towing unit" is defined as a power unit that is not used to carry property when operating in a towaway trailer transporter combination.

Question 4: Must "towaway trailer transporter combinations" be allowed access between the National Network (NN) and terminal, facilities for food, fuel, repairs and rest, and point of loading and unloading?

Answer 4: Yes. A State may not enact or enforce a law denying reasonable access for towaway trailer transporter combinations between the NN and terminal, facilities for food, fuel, repairs and rest, and point of loading and unloading.

Question 5: What was the previous length limit for a "towaway trailer transporter combination" type of vehicle prior to enactment of the FAST Act?

Answer 5: Each trailer would be limited to 28 feet or 28.5 feet (if the combination was in lawful operation on December 1, 1982 and did not exceed 65 feet), unless a longer vehicle was allowed pursuant to the ISTEA Longer Combination Vehicle (LCV), and Cargo Carrying Unit Freeze, required under 23 U.S.C. 127(d) (23 CFR 658, Appendix C).

Reports (FAST Act Section 5525)

Question 1: What consultation will the U.S. DOT do with States, State law enforcement agencies, and others to satisfy the reporting requirement in Section 5525 of the FAST Act?

Answer 1: The FAST Act requires the U.S. DOT to submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report describing the safety and enforcement impacts of sections 5520, 5521, 5522, 5523, 5524, and 7208 of the FAST Act. The FHWA will develop a mechanism to collect safety and enforcement information for this report as part of the State enforcement plan required under 23 CFR 657.

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