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Tall, Wide & Long

If you have email, at some point a friend of yours undoubtedly has sent you an invitation to join the social network LinkedIn. Or maybe 500 invitations, in one day. If you are on LinkedIn and interested in the heavy haul side of trucking, there is a group called “High, Wide and Heavy” moderated by Pete Lynch, a great friend of the ITEA. Towards the end of December 2014, the Illinois Department of Transportation expanded the days and dimensions certain permits can operate. In essence, IDOT made their permits higher, wider and longer!

In the specialized transportation world, there are three buzz words or phrases commonly uttered. “Harmonization” (read more about that HERE), what is “customary” and “industry standards”.

Harmonization deals with bringing uniformity between jurisdictions. Customary describes common practices which set precedent for future legislative or administrative rulemaking. The phrase which is important to the topic of IDOT expanding days and dimensions rules reflects the ever changing industry standards.

Here’s a little history lesson. For an uncountable number of years, vehicles which were overweight only (legal size) have been able to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Illinois. Vehicles which were oversize were limited to daylight hours only, which really means 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.

Until 2010, oversize vehicles were only allowed to operate during daylight hours, Monday to Friday, and until noon on Saturday. After that, the people of Illinois needed not worry about oversize load on Saturday afternoon or on Sundays. In 2010 IDOT allowed travel during daylight hours seven days per week, provided  the vehicles were within (the now old) practical maximum dimensions: 12’ wide, 115’ long and legal height (13’6”).

The thinking was this: a lot of people traveling on the weekends, therefore the roads should be free of vehicles which would impede or slow things down. However, industry standards changed.

Hours of service regulations have consistently become more restrictive, requiring greater flexibility of travel times. Certain commodities like cranes, precast concrete and industrial equipment have found more cost effective means to move bigger and heavier objects. The industry standards started to evolve.

As states more progressive than Illinois slowly start to expand hours, days and dimensions, other states are soon to follow. New industry standards requires harmonization. It is for this reason IDOT made these changes in December.

Much like the philosophy behind the article last week (regarding the extra ton of weight for vehicles powered by LNG/CNG), Illinois needs to keep up with industry standards. As other states have begun allowing bigger and heavier loads at more liberal times, Illinois has become a roadblock to efficient transportation.

That is unacceptable for a state in the heart of the Midwest which is already floundering economically. In response, IDOT has done what they believe needed to be done to accommodate new industry standards in specialized transportation.

A key point to remember is that these new rules are only applicable on state highways operating under the permit authority of IDOT. Just because IDOT allows something on their highways, it should never be assumed the same benefits are granted on tollways, county, township or city/village highways.

On a similar note, the ITEA encourages local permit jurisdictions to comply and harmonize their permit rules with those of IDOT. Again, there is no mandate to conform.

Here’s the meat of the new rule. Effective immediately, vehicles operating on IDOT highways with a valid IDOT permit may operate during daylight hours, seven days per week, provided the vehicles do not exceed these dimensions: 14’6” wide, 15’ high and 145’ long. These dimensions are the new practical maximums. This has been made possible due to the massive engineering database contained within IDOTs automated permit system (ITAP). It should be noted that those vehicles operating on LCO (limited continuous permits) for overweight, are still limited to the size limitations listed on the permit (12′ wide, 115′ long, legal height).

So what happens if a police officer catches a load exceeding these limitations during daylight hours? Is the permit rendered void, knocking all weights and sizes back to legal? Can the police officer just cite the vehicle and allow it to continue on its way?

The answer to both questions is a resounding “no”. If vehicle has a valid permit, the excess dimension does not void the permit. It is a violation of permit citation only, written under 625 ILCS 5/15-301(j). This citation requires a court appearance and carries a maximum fine of $200 for the first offense. Even if the violation is cited, a police officer cannot allow a vehicle to continue on illegally. A new or revised permit must be obtained first.

Having an account on Linkedin? Optional. Knowing and understanding this new rule? Mandatory.

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