Accommodating the oversized-overweight trucking industry

Posted in: Bridges, Highways


osow-ih-43_bodyIn 2016, oversized-overweight freight trucks delivered over 70 percent of all domestic freight, totaling ten billion tons, all around the country. While this is great for our economy, engineers are having to rethink the way we design highways and industrial networks to accommodate larger, longer and wider trucks.

Departments of Transportation have specific challenges in accommodating growing OSOW traffic, including how to respond to industrial and commercial growth. For example, new wind farms in the Great Plains have had a recent impact on state and regional highways. Transporting oversized wind turbine components takes OSOW vehicles on a long trip across the state’s freight transportation network of highways and interstates.

However, not all roads in this network were created with freight traffic in mind. These trucks face challenges at intersections that were designed to only accommodate vehicles less than half their length.  Unable to use certain exits or make turns at intersections, these OSOW drivers must find alternate permitted routes that can accommodate their truck’s length, width and weight. This can be difficult, especially when detours might take trucks on roads and bridges with lower weight limits.

In response to industry needs, WisDOT has made significant investments in intersection improvements to remove impediments to OSOW movement. Often these fast-tracked projects can be implemented quickly, thereby allowing OSOW haulers shorter and more cost-efficient routes.

Mead & Hunt has assisted WisDOT in updating the state’s infrastructure for OSOW vehicles. Our engineers examined the IH 43 access point at WIS 147 and discovered that OSOW trucks required more width for several turning movements. To make turning movements clear for both regular traffic and freight traffic, we used red-tinted concrete pavement to identify roadway areas that OSOW vehicles could use but were off limits to other traffic.

Additionally, our engineers provided a similar solutions on the USH 151 and IH 39 interchange, widening a tight-loop ramp using red-tinted concrete truck aprons. The video of the finished project shows how the OSOW truck has more room to maneuver the ramp thanks to the additional space.

From wind turbines, heavy construction, mining and processing equipment, the movement of OSOW loads present challenges around the country. Creating solutions for these problems can be quick and manageable while fitting into standard project development processes. Mead & Hunt understands both the urgency and the specialized needs of these unique situations. Let us know if your transportation network needs an upgrade to accommodate your growing freight traffic and industrialized economy.

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Scott-Hasburgh_headshotAbout the Author

Scott Hasburgh is the Madison office Transportation Department Manager and Senior Project Manager for Mead & Hunt. He has led the analysis of roadway networks to accommodate freight and oversized-overweight truck movements. He is currently assisting WisDOT with the development of roundabout intersection design for interchange reconstruction on the state’s OSOW Freight Network.

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