FROST LAWS AND SEASONAL PERMITS

Seasonal Permits for Use During Weight Restrictions

Seasonal Weight Restrictions or “Frost Laws" help to preserve roads from the impact of heavy trucks on Van Buren County's roads during the cycle of freezing and thawing. By law, road agencies can enact restrictions on roads that are not designated as "All-Season Routes" when conditions merit. These seasonal restrictions lower the axle-loading limits by 35% and reduce the maximum travel speed to 35 MPH for vehicles over 10,000 pounds here in Van Buren County. All Van Buren County Roads, unless they are listed as “All-Season”, fall into the category as Restricted with weight and speed limits while Frost Laws are in force.

 

Overweight citations may be issued, and fines can be quite substantial, with some of them as much as 20 cents a pound for each overweight axle. None of the revenue derived from fines is given to the Road Commission. A small percentage goes to court costs, and the rest goes to county libraires. Special attention is often given to trucks with drop axles (tag axles) to ensure that the axles are in the lowered position. Any truck found with its axle in the raised position on a restricted road will be stopped and weighed.

 

To receive a notice on weight and speed restrictions, the Van Buren County Road Commission operates a fax and email notification service or posts the Seasonal Weight Restriction status on our website, www.VBCRC.org, just prior to the start of the season. To be placed on either one of these notification services or for more information, you may call 269-674-8011, or email vbcrc@vbcrc.org. Seasonal Weight Restriction/Frost Laws typically start late-February to early-March and end when the ground and road system is fully thawed and safe for heavy vehicles traffic.

 

For up-to-date information in other Michigan counties regarding seasonal weight restrictions, visit the County Road Association of Michigan's website (CRA of MI) at www.micountyroads.org/business/seasonal-weight-restrictions.

All-Season / Unrestricted Roadways

Some roads are exempt from Frost Laws because they have a deeper

gravel base and a thicker layer of asphalt to support heavier loads when

the ground is soft. The VBCRC considers these as “All-Season” or

Unrestricted Roads. Normal Maximum Load Limits are allowed during Seasonal Weight Restrictions/Frost Laws on these road systems. No vehicles that exceed these normal load limits are allowed and no overweight/oversize permits will be granted.

Agricultural, Public Utility, and Milk Hauler Exemption Information

There are Seasonal Permits available for Public Utilities ($100 per truck) and for Agriculture Commodities ($50 per truck). These are to allow these types of vehicles on our road systems during Seasonal Weight Restrictions/Frost Laws for weights above the 35% reduction but not to exceed the Normal Load Limits.  Permits can be obtained through the online Oxcart Permitting System at www.oxcartpermits.com or a fillable Application from the VBCRC. Note that online Oxcart will take credit card transaction. The VBCRC will only take check or money order at this time and permits fees must be paid in full prior to approval. Applications, valid certification of insurance, and permit fees can be submitted by the following:

  • Oxcart – www.oxcartpermits.com

  • Mailed to P.O. Box 156, Lawrence, MI 49064

  • Dropped off at 325 West James Street, Lawrence, MI 49064

There are some limited classes that are exempt from Frost Laws after an appropriate permit is obtained, together with proof of proper insurance coverage and payment of appropriate permit fees. 

257.722(5) Agricultural, The exception to the loading maximums and gross vehicle weight requirements of subsection (8) to the loading maximums and gross vehicle weight requirement of subsection (12) do not apply to a person hauling agricultural commodities if the person who picks up or delivers the agricultural commodity either from a farm or to a farm notifies the county road commission for roads under its authority not less than 48 hours before the pickup or delivery of the time and location of the pickup or delivery.  The county road commission shall issue a permit to the person or the public utility and charge a fee that does not exceed the administrative costs incurred.  The permit shall contain the following:  (1) The designated route or routes of travel for the load.  (b) The date and time period requested by the person who picks up or delivers the agricultural commodities or the public utility during which the load may be delivered or picked up.  (c) A maximum speed limit of travel, if necessary.  (d) Any other specific conditions agreed to between the parties.

257.722(6) Public Utility Vehicles, The seasonal reductions described under subsection (8) to the loading maximums and gross vehicle weight requirements of subsection (12) do not apply to public utility vehicles under the following circumstances:  (a) For emergency public utility work on restricted roads, as follows:  (i) If required by the county road commission, the public utility or its subcontractor shall notify the county road commission, as soon as practical, of the location of the emergency public utility work and provide a statement that the vehicles that were used to perform the emergency utility work may have exceeded the loading maximums and gross vehicle weight requirements of subsection (12) as reduced under subsection (8).  (ii) The public utility vehicle travels to and from the site of the emergency public utility work while on a restricted road at a speed not greater than 35 mph.  (b) For non-emergency public utility work on restricted roads, as follows:  (i) If the county road commission requires, the public utility or its subcontractor shall apply to the county road commission annually for a seasonal truck permit for roads under its authority before seasonal weight restrictions are effective.  The county road commission shall issue a seasonal truck permit for each public utility vehicle or vehicle configuration the public utility or subcontractor anticipates will be utilized for non-emergency public utility work.  The county road commission may charge a fee for a seasonal truck permit that does not exceed the administrative costs incurred for the permit. The seasonal truck permit shall contain information as set forth in 257.722(6)(b)(i)(A) through (E).  (ii)  If the county road commission requires notification, the county road commission shall provide a notification application for the public utility or its subcontractor to use when requesting access to operate on restricted roads and the public utility or its subcontractor shall provide notification to the county road commission as set forth in 257.722(6)(b)(ii).  See statute for further details regarding exemption of non-emergency public utility vehicles.

257.722(8) Vehicles Delivering Propane Fuel, Maximum axle loads set forth in subsection (8) do . . . "not apply to a vehicle delivering propane fuel to a residence if the vehicle's propane tank is filled to not more than 50% of its capacity and the vehicle is traveling at not more than 35 mph". 

257.722(8) Milk Hauler Exemption, The state transportation department for roads under its jurisdiction and a county road commission for roads under its jurisdiction may grant exemptions from seasonal weight restrictions for milk on specific routes when requested in writing.  Approval or denial of a request for an exemption shall be given by written notice to the applicant within 30 days after the date of submission of the application.  If a request is denied, the written notice shall state the reason for denial and alternate routes for which the permit may be issued.  The applicant shall have the right to appeal to the state transportation commission or the county road commission.  These exemptions shall not apply on county roads in counties that have negotiated agreements with milk haulers or haulers of other commodities during periods of seasonal load limits before April 14, 1993.  This subsection does not limit the ability of these counties to continue to negotiate such agreements.

MICHIGAN WEIGHT AND AXLE LOAD LIMITS

Understanding the axle and weight load limits can be very confusing. For a better explanation on Michigan weight and axle load limits and how to calculate you axle loads, please refer to Michigan Center for Truck Safety at www.truckingsafety.org and utilize the most current edition of the Truck Drivers Guidebook: https://www.truckingsafety.org/Portals/0/GuideBooks/TDBG19thEd.pdf. You are responsible for familiarity with complete weight laws found in the Michigan Vehicle Code, Section 257.722.