Commercial Vehicle Services - Oversize and overweight permits
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Oversize and overweight permits
Source: WSDOT Commercial Vehicle Services Office
Oversize and overweight load permits
In general, an oversize and overweight load permit is required for vehicles or loads over 14 feet in height, 8 feet 6 inches in width, or 40 feet in length (for a single unit). There are a number of exceptions, including some for log trucks. The maximum legal weight (including the load) depends on a vehicle's length and the number of axles it has. Detailed information on maximum legal dimensions is available on WSDOT's commercial vehicle permits page.
WSDOT receives federal grant to replace self-issued permit system
In 2022, WSDOT began working with a vendor to design a new self-serve permit system for oversize and overweight loads. The new system was funded by an Innovative Technology Development federal grant for $2.2 million, which also supports three years of maintenance through September 30, 2025. The grant is 85% federally funded and required a 15% state match.
The system is being customized to implement Washington's oversize and overweight rules and regulations while performing all the current system's functions. It will also include features like carrier validation, automated routing and roadway restrictions, and make obtaining self-issued permits easier while reducing errors as well.
Carrier validation will prevent out-of-service carriers from purchasing permits. The system will provide commercial vehicle registration information to help prevent potential errors concerning vehicle's license plates, the Vehicle Identification Number, or gross vehicle weight.
Automated routing will automate the routing process to provide connecting highways and mileposts, making it easier for self-issuers to select their route.
The current system requires self-issuers to input their highways and mileposts manually and cannot check for connecting routes or missing sections. As a result, commercial vehicle drivers have to know how to read a milepost map and enter data into a system designed in 1999 for expert users.
The new system, scheduled to be completed in September 2023, will provide a more intuitive self-issue permit system with connections to tools like the Bridge Vertical Clearance Trip Planner. This trip planner will help reduce the potential for bridge strikes, which are typically caused by commercial trucks hauling loads that are too high for certain routes.
WSDOT to replace aging self-serve permit system
WSDOT is replacing its outdated self-service system used to issue oversize and overweight permits. The new system will be designed for the general public and use advances in technology to make obtaining self-issued permits easier while helping prevent errors.
WSDOT cannot process credit card payments on the internal network, leaving customers with three options for obtaining oversize or overweight permits: 1) Self-issue a permit online 2) Apply in person at a WSDOT office or 3) Pay a fee to a third-party agent.
In 2021, approximately 84% of permits were self-issued using a system designed in 1999 as a data entry form for highly-trained expert users.
In 2021 and 2020, approximately 84% of permits were self-issued and the five-year average for self-issued permits was 82%.
WSDOT has selected a vendor for the self-service permit system. The new system will perform all the functions of the current system and will include carrier validation, automated routing and manage roadway restrictions.
Carrier validation: will check for and prevent out-of-service carriers from purchasing permits. The system will also provide the commercial vehicle registration information to help prevent errors on the plate, vehicle identification number, or gross vehicle weight.
Automated routing: will automate the routing process providing connecting highways and mileposts to make it easier for self-issuers select their route.
The current system requires self issuers to know and input their highways and mileposts manually and does not check for connecting routes or missing sections. Users have to know how to read a milepost map.
The new system will also provide a more intuitive self-issue permit system with connections to tools like the Bridge Vertical Clearance Trip Planner. The new self-service permit system is scheduled to be completed in July 2023 and cost around $1.4 million with maintenance fees averaging $185,000 a year. The cost and some of the maintenance fees are covered by the federal grant.
WSDOT to replace aging self-serve permit system
In 2020, WSDOT applied for and received a federal Innovative Technology Deployment grant to support the replacement of its current self-serve permit system. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration grant provides $2.2 million with a project end date of September 30, 2024. WSDOT estimates that an off-the-shelf product will cost between $1.4 and $3.2 million, with an additional annual maintenance cost between $150,000 and $250,000.
In September 2020, WSDOT began developing the Request for Proposals for the self-service permit system replacement project, which will outline the essential features of the new permit program. The RFP will require that the new system perform all the functions of the current system, and also include:
- Carrier validation
- Automated routing
- A connection to WSDOT's Bridge Vertical Clearance Trip Planner
- Restriction management
WSDOT plans to have the RFP out for bid by May 31, 2021 and a vendor selected by the end of summer 2021.
Most permits to transport oversize or overweight loads are self-issued
Financial security regulations that went into effect in 2015 prevent WSDOT staff from issuing most permits to transport oversize and/or overweight loads via fax or email, leaving customers with three options for obtaining these types of permits:
- Apply in person at a WSDOT office,
- Pay a fee to a third-party agent, or
- Self-issue a permit online.
As a result of these regulations, WSDOT staff issued 5% (9,029) of oversize and/or overweightload permits in 2020, while 84% (144,256) were self-issued. WSDOT issues the more complex permits and assists walk-in customers. The remaining permits are issued electronically without WSDOT staff assistance through a system that was not designed for public use, and which can result in user errors. The planned replacement self-service permit system will be designed for public use, and to prevent common errors.
WSDOT's current permit system not designed for public use
WSDOT is currently using a web based permit program named "Electronic System Network forOversize/Overweight Permit Information," or E-SNOOPI, which was designed in 1999 by WSDOT staff. E-SNOOPI was designed for internal use by experts familiar with transportation industry rules and regulations. In past years, WSDOT permit experts would receive applications by fax, validate the information, contact the customer for corrections, and send back a valid permit. In 2007, WSDOT upgraded E-SNOOPI to allow the public to self-issue permits online in addition to working with in-house experts.
New financial security regulations went into effect in 2015, preventing WSDOT staff from issuing most permits by fax or email and required customers to apply in person at a WSDOT office, pay fees to a third party agent or self-issue permits online. As a result of these regulations, WSDOT staff issued 6% (11,025 of 186,859) of these permits in 2019, compared to 36% (58,824 of 163,232) in 2014). WSDOT experts issue the more complex permits and assist walk-in customers. The remainder are electronically issued without WSDOT staff assistance using a system that was not designed for public use, and which can result in user errors.
No oversize permit data was reported in the GNB for 2018