Restrictions back on county roads

March 30, 2017

By John Raffel

Less than three weeks from when seasonal weight and speed restrictions were lifted from all Osceola County Roads, they’re back on again.

Luke D. Houlton, road commission engineer/manager, said this week in a statement, effective 7 p.m. this Friday, season weight and speed restrictions will be enforced on Osceola County Roads, until further notice.

The notice that restrictions were being restricted started on Jan. 29. At that time, Houlton made this comment to the Marion Press:

“With the return, and continued forecast, of freezing weather we believe our road surfaces have refrozen and regained adequate strength to support normal truck loads (weights). It is extremely rare to have placed seasonal weight restrictions in January.”

Houlton explained on Tuesday his reason for putting the restrictions back on:

“This situation is similar to what we experienced in mid-January, however in this case I expect restrictions will stay in place much longer. The forecast for the next 7 to 10 days is unseasonably warm, with a high of 51 degrees on Saturday. The FHWA formula we use to help predict when to implement seasonal (frost) restrictions indicates we should have restrictions in place as early as Friday and not later than Monday. 

“Like last month the long range forecast (30-plus days) show another cold spell for a couple weeks before warming up again.  But in this case I expect we will leave the restrictions on until mother nature has finished thawing out the ground for the summer. We will continue to monitor the actual temperatures as well as the revised forecasts over the next several weeks. The ‘Current’ prediction is that restrictions might be lifted around the last week of March or the first week of April. I emphasize ‘Current’ as the predicted end of the restriction period will likely change daily depending on weather conditions and/or forecast.”

The impact to the industry is the same, Houlton indicated.

“All large and/or heavy trucks must reduce their speeds to 35 miles per hour and reduce their overall weight to no more than 65 percent of the normal axle/tire limits for the State of Michigan,” he said. “Because the weight of the vehicle usually cannot be modified, this typically requires their loads be reduced by half or more. However there are some exceptions. Seasonal restrictions are not placed on roads designated as ‘all-season.’”

“Michigan law, unwisely in my opinion, also allows for exceptions to the weight reduction requirements (by individual permit) for public utility companies and agricultural loads, however these trucks are still required to reduce their speeds to 35 miles per hour.”

More information is available by contacting the commission at (231) 832-5171.

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