Unify policies

19 March 2008

When our members transport oversize and/or overweight loads between jurisdictions, a lack of uniform policies and procedures results in decreased efficiency and increased costs. This major problem, which exists for our members throughout the world, may crop up anywhere - from city limits to national borders.

Under the best of circumstances, transporting oversize and/or overweight loads can be slow and tedious. Although we recognize there is sometimes a need for different permit requirements for different jurisdictions, the varying permitting processes can be unnecessarily cumbersome, often resulting in idle labour and equipment as well as lapses in delivery.

Moreover, a permitting system that operates with bureaucracies and inconsistencies promotes non-compliance. The greatest cost of this non-compliance is transportation safety.

Just how big a problem is this? A new study funded by the SC&R Foundation documents how the lack of uniformity in state, county and municipal permitting requirements in the US serves as a roadblock to the safe and efficient movement of oversize and/or overweight loads.

Evidence presented in Nonuniformity in Oversize/Overweight Load Permitting Practices demonstrates how carriers are challenged day-to-day with navigating a maze of differences in permit administration, requirements and enforcement. Merely identifying who is responsible for permit administration, particularly at the county and municipal levels, can be a daunting task.

Because a 50-state process seemed overly broad in scope, the analysis focuses on permitting practices in the Midwest states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. The 39-page report incorporates interviews with state permit officials, trucking industry representatives and permitting service agency representatives.

It also examines state regulations, a sample of 11 US state oversize and/or overweight vehicle permits and related county and municipal permits, and an additional 12 individual state and local permits involving specific processing issues. In addition, the report includes information from relevant research reports, papers and other publications.

Among the findings are the following:

• No identification of required county, city, village or township permits is noted on state issued permits; the state permits often include a disclaimer statement to limit the extent of coverage for the permitted route.

• Access to information about county permit requirements via the internet remains limited; for example, 14% of the counties in Illinois and 19% in Wisconsin offer that service online.

• Inconsistent permit practices and lack of coordination between state departments of transportation, counties and municipalities has the greatest impact at the pickup and drop-off points for over-dimensional load transportation.

• The exchange of information between states, counties and municipalities is limited.

• Administrative inconsistencies and limited coordination between states, counties and municipalities may result in permits being issued with little to no knowledge of current road conditions and limitations, resulting in a negative impact on transportation safety.

• Securing county and municipal permits may require lengthy physical application and permit pick-up that negatively impacts transportation efficiency and promotes non-compliance.

• State issued permits traversing municipal roads that involve crossing incompatible bridge construction results in unsafe conditions and infrastructure damage.

Independent researcher Jo Anne Garza-Cunningham, Wisconsin, US, collected and analysed the information and wrote the analysis paper. Providing guidance was the SC&RA Truck Permit Policy Task Force: Thomas Alexander, Sunshine Flag Car Service, Inc.; Geoff Fischer, Trail King Industries, Inc.; Murray Johnston, Aspen Custom Trailers; Wayne Kokta, Dawes Rigging and Crane Rental/DST Inc.; David Lowry, Bennett International Transport; Douglas Miller, DEM & Associates; Ron Montgomery, Intermountain Rigging and Heavy Haul; Val Parrott, R&M Freight Inc.; Cheryl Reeves, Comdata; James Reusch, Rushco Services, Inc.; Paul Ross, Keen Transport, Inc.; and Lynn Seyfert, Lonestar Transportation, Inc. SC&RA staff assistance was provided by Doug Ball, vice president, transportation.

The study is available free of charge for SC&RA members and US$ 75 for non-members. To order visit the SCRA Store online at www.scranet.org

SC&RA is considering expanded research in other states. In addition, SC&RA plans to explore permitting issues with allied associations around the world. See future issues of this magazine for news of further developments.

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