Warmer weather is here (for now) across much of the state — prompting seasonal weight restrictions to go into effect much earlier than normal for many counties.
That means now is the time for farmers to review the restrictions, which can be found on a detailed map available from the County Road Association of Michigan website.
Ag haulers can obtain exemption permits to enable movement of products and equipment when necessary by notifying the county road commission at least 48 hours in advance of the shipment. The permit provides a designated route, time, and maximum speed to be traveled. Other conditions the commission and hauler agree upon can be included.
Even though agricultural-use vehicles may be exempt to the restrictions, ag producers should pay attention to road conditions during the season and respect permit requirements, said Andrew Vermeesch, MFB legislative counsel.
“Seasonal weight restrictions are designed to minimize the effects that freezing and thawing have on Michigan’s roads and bridges,” Vermeesch noted.
“With the warmer-than-normal temperatures we’ve seen recently, many counties have recently opted to put the restrictions — commonly known as frost laws — in effect.”
Concrete and asphalt roads can be quite fragile in late winter as frost comes out of the ground, according to the County Road Association of Michigan.
As frost melts beneath a paved road, the roadbed turns wet and spongy because water is trapped between the pavement and the remaining ice layer beneath. When trucks and heavy equipment travel over a layer of concrete or asphalt that isn’t well supported beneath, permanent cracks and damage can occur.
Information for farmers about seasonal weight restrictions and other transportation and road safety regulations can be found in Michigan Farm Bureau’s Michigan Farmer’s Transportation Guidebook.