What are spring weight restrictions and why does Michigan have them?

All of Michigan's Lower Peninsula and part of the Upper Peninsula are now under spring weight restrictions, but what does that mean?

The state implements weight restrictions to help reduce damage to roads as they begin to thaw out from the winter. As roads thaw from the surface down, the melting snow and ice saturates the road and makes it more susceptible to damage.

Weight restriction timelines are determined by the Michigan Department of Transportation based on frost depths along highways, road conditions, and weather forecasts.

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The weight restrictions remain in place until the frost line is deep enough to allow moisture to escape.

In the restricted areas, these rules apply: 

  • On routes designated as "all-season" (designated in green and gold on the MDOT Truck Operators Map – see map below), there will be no reduction in legal axle weights.
  • On routes designated as "seasonal" (designated in solid or dashed red on the MDOT Truck Operators Map), there will be a posted weight reduction of 25 percent for rigid (concrete) pavements and 35 percent for flexible (asphalt) pavements.
  • - All extended permits will be valid for oversize loads in the weight-restricted area on the restricted routes. Single-trip permits will not be issued for any overweight loads or loads exceeding 14 feet in width, 11 axles and 150 feet in overall length on the restricted routes.

Currently, the entire Lower Peninsula is under restrictions, as well as US-2/US-141 at the Menominee River bridge west of Iron Mountain, then east on US-2 to St. Ignace in the UP.

Restrictions on all state trunk lines from the southern Michigan border north to and including M-43 in the City of South Haven east to US-131 in Kalamazoo County then south to I-94 in Kalamazoo County then east to I-69 in Calhoun County, then north to Lansing then continuing east on I-69 to Port Huron in St. Clair County are set to be lifted at 6 a.m. March 21.

(If you can't see the maps below, click here.)