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Officials in multiple states have lifted restrictions on truck weight limits to allow delivery vehicles involved in emergency relief efforts to accommodate more freight during the coronavirus pandemic.
About a dozen states have issued suspensions pertaining to these regulations as of March 20.
Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, issued a waiver March 18 suspending certain size and weight restrictions on public highways for trucks involved in relief efforts. Wilson recently confirmed he has tested positive for COVID-19.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation authorized a similar weight increase March 17. The maximum gross weight under Mississippi’s allowance is 90,000 pounds on a 5-axle commercial motor vehicle. The waiver does not allow trucks to cross load-posted bridges that can’t bear their weight.
“By waiving certain regulations, we can help ensure timely and efficient delivery of goods and services,” MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath said.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a state of emergency March 17 temporarily suspending provisions regarding oversize and overweight loads of food, medical supplies, cleaning products and other household goods.
“These are unprecedented times, and the state of Iowa will do whatever is necessary to address this public health disaster,” Reynolds said. “I have authorized all available state resources, supplies, equipment and materials to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s emergency declaration, issued March 14, contained similar language, suspending restrictions on height, weight, length and hours of operation for commercial vehicles involved in relief efforts. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on March 11 signed an executive order waiving similar rules pertaining to registration, permitting, length, weight and load size.
The Virginia Department of Transportation issued a waiver March 19 for carriers hauling relief supplies, water, food, oil, fuel, waste, livestock, poultry and animal feed. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on March 14 gave the state Department of Transportation permission to issue waivers on weight limits for haulers that supply grocery retailers.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced March 19 that trucks involved in relief efforts are allowed to exceed legal weight limits by up to 15%. Hogan also directed the Maryland Department of Transportation to restrict access to BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport to ticketed passengers and employees only.
“This truly is one of the most daunting challenges our state has ever faced,” Hogan said. “We are all in this together, and if we all do our part to rise to this challenge and to meet this moment, we will get through this together.”
Similar suspensions of weight restrictions for commercial motor vehicles involved in relief efforts have been issued in North Carolina, Nebraska, Illinois and Missouri.
These state waivers dovetail with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s recent relaxation of certain hours-of-service regulations for motor carriers involved in coronavirus-related relief efforts. The declaration was issued March 13, shortly after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in response to the virus.
Specifically, FMCSA is granting exemption from Parts 390-399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which cover hours of service, parts and accessories needed for safe operation, and longer combination vehicles. Drivers are not exempt from requirements relating to commercial driver licenses, drugs and alcohol, hazardous materials, size, weight and registration requirements. Also, motor carriers that are subject to an out-of-service notice are not eligible for the relief.
The declaration applies to truck operators involved in direct assistance efforts, such as hauling medical supplies and testing equipment, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, food and personnel.
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