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Frozen road law takes effect in northern third of Wisconsin

December 13, 2013

Law affects log haulers and transporters of salt or abrasives for roads in Zones 1 & 2

As of today, Wisconsin's frozen road law is in effect for the regions designated by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) as Zones 1 and 2 including state and federal numbered highways in roughly the northern third of Wisconsin. The frozen road determination for the southern zones will be made once conditions warrant.

The frozen road law allows heavier loads for trucks carrying peeled or unpeeled forest products cut crosswise (not including woodchips), and salt and sand for winter maintenance until approximately early March, unless thawing necessitates an earlier cancellation of the provision or continued cold weather allows for an extension of the declaration period.

The declaration is issued once the ground under highway pavement is frozen to a depth of at least 18-inches, allowing the maximum gross weight for trucks hauling logs or salt and sand for maintaining roads in winter to go up to 98,000 pounds on vehicles with a minimum of five axles (from the normal 80,000 pounds). Special permits for hauling the increased weights are not required in Zones 1 and 2; however, vehicles must be legally licensed at 80,000 pounds to handle the increased weights. The higher weight limits do not apply to county or local roads unless authorized by the local agency having maintenance authority. Also, higher weights may not be transported on any highways or bridges specifically posted for lower weight limits.

Effective this winter season, new boundaries have been established for most of the state’s five frost zones. While Zone 1 boundaries remain the same, borders for the other four zones have been realigned to more accurately reflect typical weather and temperature patterns. Further information on the new zones, weight restrictions and the Frozen Road declaration can be found on the WisDOT web site. Haulers with specific questions can contact WisDOT’s Oversize/Overweight Permits Unit at (608) 266-7320.

For more information, contact:
Michael Sproul, WisDOT Bureau of Highway Maintenance
(608) 266-8680,



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