WASHINGTON — The Federal Highway Administration is providing state departments of transportation with broad truck-weight permitting leeway for shipments of emergency supplies related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although Congress has not provided authority allowing states to waive weight restrictions on the interstate system during national emergencies or major disasters, states may currently provide special permits to vehicles carrying relief supplies in response to the COVID-19 emergency,” noted Nicole Nason, FHWA administrator, in a letter to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials on April 7.
“This requirement does not mandate that permits be limited by vehicle,” Nason added. “As such, states could issue permits based on identified routes that can safely handle defined overweight loads in accordance with bridge and tunnel requirements.”
The FHWA’s directive mirrors a request made by AASHTO in a letter to Congressional leadership on March 18.
“By allowing state DOTs to establish temporary maximum weights under this waiver that accounts for bridge capacities on their highway system, this action will greatly aid in timely interstate transportation of urgently needed medical supply and essential goods such as food and water to address the COVID-19 outbreaks,” the organization noted.
Editor’s note: This story was published in The Journal, the official publication of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, on April 10.