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Thread: WIde Load Limit up for Reconsideration at DOT - Time for Lobbying

  1. #1
    Member jrogers's Avatar
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    Default WIde Load Limit up for Reconsideration at DOT - Time for Lobbying

    In Washington the wide load without pilot car limit is 11', whereas in Alaska it is currently 10'. I thought this was worth looking into so I sent the AK DOT the following Email:

    Mr. von Scheben,

    I was wondering if you can direct me to the correct person or process to get a review of a current DOT regulation. Currently the wide load restriction is set at 10 feet for the width limit for permits without a pilot car. This is an issue for me since I am in the process of purchasing a boat that is slightly wider than this limit.

    Most of the recreational boats that are used in Alaska are manufactured in Washington, where this limit is at 11’. Due to the Washington limit, there are many boats that measure 10’2” to 10’6” in width.

    For traversing the Whittier Tunnel, having a vehicle that is 10’2” wide moves the fees from class B2 ($35) to class E ($300). For trailering on the highway, this means that I would need a 10’ to 12’ permit, which requires a pilot car at all times. I am wondering why this law is different from Washington, and if there can be a reason is it is different, then if there can be an exception for south central or for non-commercial vehicles or something like this. There are probably at least 100 boats in this class in this area, and to my knowledge, they just use the 10’ permit and that I know of this law is not enforced.

    I think it is important that the laws are set in a manner to keep the roads safe, but so they allow for reasonable use of the roads without undue costs or burden.

    Thank you,

    Jim Rogers
    I was amazed in just one day to receive the following response:

    Breeden, Dan K (DOT) [mailto:dan.breeden@alaska.gov] [/font]
    Sent: Saturday, February 09, 2008 12:49 PM[/font]
    To: Jim Rogers
    Cc: Veasey, Teri A (DOT)[/font]
    Subject: RE: Alaska Wide Load Restrictions
    Dear Mr. Rogers,[/font]

    Thank you for you inquiry and we agree with your assessment regarding Safety and Reasonable Use. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) Division of Measurement Standards and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (MSCVE) is responsible for enforcement of these regulations in Alaska. You will find Size and Weight regulations for Alaska located in the Alaska Administrative Code (AAC) Title 17 Chapter 25.010 through 110 or at http://old-www.legis.state.ak.us/cgi-bin/folioisa.dll/aac/query=[jump!3A!27title17chap25!2C+a!2E+1!27]/doc/%7B@66596%7D? online. Some size and weight regulations vary from state to state and some are mandated by the United States Congress (see 23 CFR 658.15 below), these must be followed to remain eligible for federal highway funding. Size and Weight rules apply to everyone, not just commercial vehicles, so there is no way to take noncommercial vehicles out of the mix. As the rules are currently written for those you mentioned that may be “Driving without a permit when required,” if caught, they will receive a $400.00 citation.

    MSCVE is currently reviewing and updating AAC 17 Chapter 25 and the Alaska Permits Manual; both will be out for public comment in approximately one month and when available will be located at 11900 Industry Way or on line at http://www.dot.state.ak.us/mscve/main.cfm?go=director . The last update of the permits manual was completed in 1989 and many upgrades to our highway system have occurred since then. One of the items we are reviewing is the need for a pilot car under 12 feet wide. This review is ongoing and taking into consideration road alignment, road surface and lane width, traffic safety, and specific routes. We are aware of the differences you have discussed and are looking at comparisons between the western states, Canada, and Alaska, when we complete our review we will be better able to address these concerns specifically.

    Please let me know if you have additional concerns or questions regarding this matter. You can reach me at the email address above or the phone number below.[/font]

    Thank you,[/font]
    Dan[/font]

    Dan Breeden, Director
    DOT&PF / MSCVE
    907-365-1210

    TITLE 23--Highways
    PART 658--truck size and weight, route designations--length, width and weight limitations
    Sec. 658.15 Width
    a) No State shall impose a width limitation of more or less than 102 inches, or its approximate metric equivalent, 2.6 meters (102.36 inches) on a vehicle operating on the National Network, except for the State of Hawaii, which is allowed to keep the State's 108-inch width maximum by virtue of section 416(a) of the STAA.
    (b) The provisions of paragraph (a) of this section do not apply to special mobile equipment as defined in Sec. 658.5.
    (c) Safety devices, as defined in Sec. 658.5 or as determined by the States as necessary for the safe and efficient operation of motor vehicles shall not be included in the calculation of width. Safety devices not specifically enumerated in Sec. 658.5 may not extend beyond 3 inches on each side of a vehicle. No device included in this subsection shall have, by its design or use, the capability to carry cargo.
    (d) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section or any other provision of law, a State may grant special use permits to motor vehicles, including manufactured housing, that exceed 102 inches in width.
    [49 FR 23315, June 5, 1984, as amended at 59 FR 30419, June 13, 1994]

    So in my opinion, this is the time for everyone to lobby for this change, both for the tunnel fees and the pilot car width restriction. Any comments on how to be most effective would be appreciated. I think as many people as possible testifying that Alaska needs to be the same as Washington for boats, since many of the ones used here are built to their regulations would be a good step.

    Jim

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    Default

    Some of the problems I see Jim are that, even with some of our recently upgraded roads, Alaska's roads are not roads like Washington has, and thus should not be treated the same, regardless of the width of boats made in Washington. Our roads in South Central, where most of the State's boating activity takes place, are narrow, rough, rutted, and stuffed with Motorhomes, gawking tourists, and bumper-to-bumper traffic. The Seward Highway on the way to Whittier has one of the worst (if not the worst) death rates in the US. I also think the tunnel is unique, and its fees are an entirely seperate issue that must be managed and treated differently than the State's highways. Not to mention boats used up here are manufactured from all different state's, not just Washington. So if we base our laws on what Washington does, we'd have to ignore what all the other states do. FWIW, Canada requires a pilot car for anything 10.5'. So if you trailer a boat that size from Washington to Alaska, you'll still need a pilot car.

    I'm not quite sure I want to be surprised by a 10.5'-wide boat coming around a corner at Cooper Landing just as a tourist decides to pull over for a picture. The pilot car makes safety sense for those loads.

    Just my own opinion.

  3. #3
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    Default

    I guarantee that if the state has any possibility of going to 12' before a pilot car is required every single trucking company in this state is going to lobby HARD to get it changed to 12'. It would save them millions of $$ in pilot car expenses.

  4. #4

    Exclamation It's about safety, not convenience...

    You want to compromise other's safety to haul your bigassed boat around for a little less $$?

    If you want to haul anything that requires 3' mirror extensions to see around your load, get educated, get a special license, and be liable for big fines if you tow improperly (like use surge brakes for loads that weigh more than the tow vehicle).


    No. If the average Joe driver wants to tow a huge boat down the Big Road, he needs to pay a little attention to everyone else's safety and use a legal pilot car with radios that knows the Escort Best Practice guidelines. That way you may have time to stop for that school bus over the hill...
    Most weekend boaters don't have the skills, knowledge, or equipment to handle a 10'+ wide load in Turnagain Arm winds.
    One stick of cordwood layin in the road or a problem with trailer brakes on a frost heave or icy bridge could be a disaster if one is already driving at 98% of his ability trying to handle an unfamiliar task with inadequate gear.


    Safety First!

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    Default 'What he says..."

    I agree with Ishmael. I had a good friend die in the early -80's on the Seward Hwy by a head-on collision due to an inattentive motorhome driver crossing over the center line. Every year, even tho 20 yrs later, I still see flowers laid by the side of the road there.
    I drive the Glenn Hwy regularly to the Copper Basin in the summer, and there is literally no room for error from just past Sutton untill you reach Pinnacle Mtn area near Hick's Creek. There are no shoulders in that stretch of the road.

    Pilot cars save lives. Smart drivers save lives.

    Not all of us use our wits when we should...

  6. #6

    Smile 10' vs 10.5'

    If you can tell the difference between 10' and 10.5' coming at at 60 mph you let me know. Most people can't tell the difference between 8.5' and 10'.

    Go Jim.

  7. #7

    Thumbs up Safety.

    I think in all things, safety must come first. Although, increasing the wide load permit from 10' to 10'6" is a great idea. I think 11' is asking a bit much for Alaska roads but 10'6" would be great. I know most of my customers would be overwhelmed to say the least.

  8. #8
    Member RMiller's Avatar
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    Default

    Going from 10' to 11' only adds 6" more to the side of the load. If you cant stay more than six inches away from the the oncoming traffic you have other problems. If you hit an 11' wide load you likely would have hit a 10' load.

    Sounds like a good change to me.
    "You have given out too much reputation in the last 24 hours, try again later".

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Default Some data that might help...

    From the current DOT federally funded road system report for Alaska. This is the number of miles of each lane width in the state:

    Less than 10' = 1 mile

    10' = 75 miles

    11' = 131 miles

    12' = 3,103 miles

    More than 12' = 870 miles
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  10. #10
    Member captaindd's Avatar
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    Default Wide Load Limits

    I do not have a problem with the load limits going to 10 6 or even 11ft. The main problem is people drive to fast for road conditions. I love my boats and I keep my speed down to 45mph so that I can spot if I have too and it keeps the wind gusts from blowing me around. In the spring when I go from Salcha to Valdez I see very few cars. If I get traffic behind me I will pull over and let them pass. It takes me 8 hours and 20 minutes to make the trip. My boat the North Country weights 12900 pounds which includes the trailer. My other boat the Otter Dodger weights 18500 pounds which includes the trailer. I just wish I could pull them on the Holidays as there is very little traffic at nights.

  11. #11

    Default Wide Load Limit

    Quote Originally Posted by Glaciercraft View Post
    I think in all things, safety must come first. Although, increasing the wide load permit from 10' to 10'6" is a great idea. I think 11' is asking a bit much for Alaska roads but 10'6" would be great. I know most of my customers would be overwhelmed to say the least.
    I must agree with Glaciercraft that increasing the wide load limit to 10'6" would be a great idea and would allow all of us who are waiting on slip lists a great option for more stable boats. The State of Alaska should also continue putting in more pull-offs to allow the wide loads to make way for our anxious tourists who need to get to there and get back. I know a lot of potential custom boat customers who would love to have a 10'6" boat, but cannot take the hassel of a pilot car and cannot get a slip for six years or so.

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    Default Most Weekend Trailer Pulling Boaters

    The vast majority of the "Weekend Boaters" pulling trailers are all smaller than 10' wide. Have dinner at the Turnagain House and watch what goes by on the highway. I think increasing the regulations to include a 10' 6" boat without a pilot car is a good idea.
    The people I know that own 10 foot wide plus boats all pull their boats during off hours on the highway and leave them parked for the summer in Whittier or Seward. I certainly would not tow a boat of this size through Cooper Landing to Kenai or Homer when I could take the boat down Cook Inlet easier and bring a empty trailer over the Pass.

  13. #13
    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Default

    Well I guess I am odd one out as I pull my 10 wide every couple of weeks to a different port. I do try and move at off hours but what would be consider an off hour for the Seward????

    I hate the road between King River and Pinnacle Mountain. I squeeze in line to line thru that area. It's not me that I am worried about....it's the other guy. Not to many years ago I just missed 3 motorcycles that had crossed the centerline(racing on the Glenn N. of Sutton).....how about the trucks "Making Time" thru that area. I also was one of those unfortunates that always seem to catch the "Bear Crowd" south of the Ferry. What a squeeze that is when they park on both sides of the road with no shoulder.

    The point being, I was the one taking the defensive actions to avoid the accident. Even if it meant taking the trailer off the shoulder where possible. Those of us who haul oversize tend to be driving slower and most do better maintenance on our equipment because we know how much we depend on it. 10 foot to 10' 6" no biggie, no one would notice. Taking it to 11' is pushing it. You may find that some of those narrow lanes are here in Anchorage.

    Just as in boating "ALWAY PREPARED"

  14. #14

    Default Proposed Reg Changes

    I read through the propose changes to the regulations and the only thing they are proposing that will affect us is that they are doubling the permit fees.

    Denny
    What-a-Day
    27' x 9.5' Glacier Craft - Volvo 300hp D4 Diesel
    Remember: Any fool can be uncomfortable.
    Denny

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Default Yep...

    Lots of changes to commercial length, height, weight, and fee increases, but not a single mention of width. Public hearing is on April Fool's day at high noon.

    http://www.dot.state.ak.us/mscve/main.cfm?go=director
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  16. #16
    Member jrogers's Avatar
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    Default Good news on the wide load regs -- 10'6"!

    I read the regulations, and had the same conclusion as the others that recently commented on this here, so I decided to write in and ask, and here is the response I got:

    Mr. Rogers,

    Only legal dimensions are listed in the AAC over legal width is addressed in the “Permits Manual” that is adopted by reference; the updated version will not require pilot cars for over legal width that does not exceed 10’6" for all routes. The permits manual is adopted by reference in AAC 17.25.320 and currently states ….Department of Commerce and Economic Development's Administrative Permit Manual: Oversize and Overweight Permits, revised as of June 1989. Pages 3.1 through 3.2, 4.1 through 4.3, 5.1, 6.1 through 6.4, 7.1 through 7.3, 8.2 through 8.6, 9.2 through 9.5, 10.1, and 11.1 through 11.3 of that manual are adopted by reference.’ We are updating to become the DOT&PF permits manual and it will be updated to March 2008.


    We do not have permits manual out to the public (yet), but hope to in the near future. Also I think it may have been an oversight on our part that you did not see it the updated AAC 17.25.320. However when fixed it will read something like ….Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, Division of Measurement Standards & Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Administrative Permit Manual: Oversize and Overweight Permits, revised as of March 2008 and adopted in its entirety by reference.


    Thanks for bring this to my attention. Dan



    Dan Breeden, Director

    DOT&PF / MSCVE

    I will update this thread again if I see this Manual he is referring to. Thanks Denny for alerting me that they had posted these changes.

    Jim
    Last edited by jrogers; 03-10-2008 at 16:15. Reason: Fixed formatting.

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