There are things in life you can count on like death, taxes, and if you live in Maine…posted roads. Mainers, especially those in the Trucking Industry, are quite familiar with the spring thaw and the necessity of the State and Towns to post roads during mud season. This article is a refresher of the posted road law to help our members comply.
Title 29-A MRSA §2395 gives Maine DOT the authority to restrict heavy loads on State and State Aid roads. Most municipalities adopt the State rule by reference, thus making the requirements the same for State and local roads. That is not the case in all towns, however, so you must obey the requirements of each town as posted.
Summary of DOT Rule 17-229 CMR Chapter 308, and how most town roads are posted:
- The road must be posted at each end with an orange poster containing the date of the posting, description of the highway that is closed, summary of vehicles exempt from closing, name of DOT official, and applicable statutory reference.
- Roads may be posted any time between November 15th and June 1st.
- The rule shall not apply to any road that is frozen. Frozen means the temperature is below 32 degrees and there is no standing water in the cracks. Highway is considered frozen if adjacent gravel driveways, shoulders, lawns remain frozen.
- Most roads are posted at 23,000 pounds registered This is so any law enforcement officer or town selectman can enforce the posting without having to weigh the vehicle.
Exemption to the rule not requiring a permit:
- Any vehicle or combination of vehicles registered for a gross weight of 23,000 pounds or less.
- Any vehicle or combinations registered in excess of 23,000 pounds, if completely empty except for tools or equipment necessary for safe operation of the vehicle.
- MDOT or Town vehicles authorized to maintain the roads, emergency vehicles, wreckers towing disabled vehicles, and vehicles with less than 3 axles performing public utility repair or maintenance are exempt.
- Authorized emergency vehicles, school buses, wreckers towing a disabled vehicle of legal weight and vehicles with three axles or less under the direction of a public utility and engaged in repair or maintenance.
- Any two-axle vehicle registered for more than 23,000 pounds but less than or equal to 34,000 pounds and carrying special commodities as defined in the rule. These include home heating fuel, petroleum products, groceries, bulk milk, bulk feed, solid waste, animal bedding, returnable beverage containers, sewage from private septic tanks or porta-potties, medical gases, or US Mail.
- It is a defense to prosecution if the vehicle or combination of vehicles registered in excess of 23,000 if the vehicle and it’s load actually weigh less than 23,000. Current weigh slip would be needed as proof.
Exemptions to the rule that require a limited load permit:
A limited load permit specifies a reduced weight for a truck based on its axle configuration and tire width. To apply for a permit you need to submit the application with a copy of the registration and a certified copy of a weigh slip for the empty vehicle. The permit is good for the life of the registration as long as it is the same truck and owner and carrying the same commodity.
A limited load permit would apply to the special commodities listed in the exemptions not requiring a permit, but in a configuration other than 2-axle and for more than 34,000 GVW. The vehicles must be carrying a partial load and must weigh equal to or less than that indicated on the limited load permit. The permit must be carried in the vehicle along with weigh slips, delivery slips, or bills of lading for the load being carried.
Trip tickets are required for moves of bulk perishable items on a 5 axle or more combination vehicles, and up to 80,000 pounds. A separate trip ticket is required for each move. The trip ticket must be carried in the vehicle at all times.
MDOT has up to 72 hours to review each move, the route requested, the vehicle axle configuration and the commodity transported. MDOT may limit the trip ticket by time of day and/or weather conditions and may withhold additional trip tickets to shippers that are in violation of any of the required conditions and rules. MDOT may also charge a reasonable fee for administration of trip tickets.
MDOT in its sole discretion may allow heavy loads over posted roadways during times of emergency or in such instances where singular, nonrecurring moves are deemed to be unique, essential, and reasonably unforeseen. Permission for such moves will be made in writing specifying the limitations, and shall accompany the vehicle at all times.
Remember that Maine DOT and its rules apply to State and State Aid roads and that any local road that is posted would require any permit to be issued come from the municipality.
As always, feel free to contact MMTA Staff if you have any questions.