Machinery Chatter

Wisconsin Addresses Large Farm Equipment on Public Roads

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Large farm equipment and rural roads don't always work well together. Wisconsin is holding town hall meetings to discuss the issue. (Photo by Bob Elbert.)

Farm equipment is get larger and larger; there is no question about this. I remember visiting with a farmer several years and he was complaining his combine just about didn't fit in his older machinery shed.

He was afraid the next combine would not fit in the shed as the current one had just barely cleared the rafters. I asked him what he would do the next time he trades combines.

Either not get another combine that was any taller or build a new shed and neither option is very cheap, he responded. I believe he was half-joking but also half telling the truth.

It is not only farmers having issues with larger farm equipment but also state and county department of roads as well as law enforcement officials. Road and bridge issues emerge with equipment being taller and heavier.

With this in mind, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation along with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) worked together on the Implements of Husbandry (IoH) study group. The groups was made up of 20 people representing various transportation and farm organization, equipment manufacturers, law enforcement, local officials and University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension representatives.

The group unveiled several recommendations recently which could lessen the effect of farm equipment on the state's roadways while attempting to balance the needs of the agricultural community, according to the Wisconsin DOT website. The first phase of the study was released this winter and the second phase was just released on July 31.

Phase two creates size limits for IoH or an "envelope." The width of IoH will be 15', although an implement can be no greater than 17' without written authorization when the operator meets safety requirements to ensure safe passage by other road users.

The width of IoH Commercial Motor Vehicle, which I assume must be a tractor or semi-tractor, can be 10'.

Maximum height of IoH can be 13'6", although a height greater may be operated without written authorization. The operator is also responsible for ensuring safe clearance of any overhead obstructions.

The maximum length of implements can be 60', 100' for a combination of two implements and 70' for combinations of three IoHs.

IoH are given expanded 15% weight allowance over the limits established by the Federal Bridge Formula, except where posted and during periods of spring thaw. This would equate to a maximum single axle weight of 23,000 pounds and a gross vehicle weight of 92,000 pounds.

Written authorization to exceed any of these envelopes may be requested on an annual basis, the DOT website reports. Written authorization will only be granted if the operator is 18 years of age and holds a valid driver's license, IoH meets various safety requirements and a travel route for the IoH is submitted.

Vehicles operating in excess of the 15% allowance will be fined for the amount in excess of standard gross motor vehicle weight or individual axle weight.

In addition to the height and width recommendations, the group also supports exploration of best practices to assist in reducing wear on roadways and structures. The state should also develop a self-certification system for IoH CMVs rather than a plate, sticker or decal.

The Wisconsin DOT, DATCP and study members will be conducting meetings across the state to obtain feedback from those affected by these recommendations. All town hall style meetings will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on:

August 19 UW Madison Extension Office in Madison

August 20 Country Aire Banquet Hall in Stratford

August 28 Cashton Community Hall in Cashton

August 29 WisDOT Northeast Region Office in Green Bay

September 3 Chippewa County Courthouse Large Assembly Room in Chippewa Falls

(JP/CZ)

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