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Department of Transportation seasonal road weight restrictions go into effect

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 4:14 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Spring is here, snow is melting, and as of Monday morning, weight restrictions have been placed on heavy commercial vehicles to protect Alaska’s roads. Every year, the Department of Transportation (DOT) enacts restrictions on the amount of weight that can be transported. Beginning April 19th, large commercial and construction vehicles will be limited in the loads they carry.

Daniel Adamczak, Northern Region Maintenance & Operations Engineer with the Department of Transportation explained the reason for this change saying, “So what the weight restrictions are... they apply to all vehicles over 10,000 pounds, which is typically your semi’ and your large commercial vehicles. What de do is we reduce the allowable weight on the road to protect it during breakup.”

As paved and gravel roads thaw, damage is caused by flowing melt water and the pressure of heavy vehicles. The DOT’s weight reduction mandate prevents potholes and other damage to the roads. Adamczak continued, “Depending on where you are in the state, in the northern region, the weight restriction can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, and it really depends on the weather we see. As we see the road thaw, the faster it thaws the faster we can take those weight restrictions off.”

This annual event puts on hold most construction and commercial activities as trucks can only haul a portion of their axle weight, making trips less cost effective until restrictions are lifted.

“It doesn’t effect typical commuter cars or trucks. It does typically effect the larger commercial trucks, and what this means is on a lot of the main roads - the Alaska highway, the Richardson coming into town - we reduce the allowable weight restrictions to 85% of legal axle load. So what that basically means is they can carry about 85% of their typical axle weight,” said Adamczak.

For more information about weight restrictions in the northern regions, visit the Department of Transportation website here.

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