Why we post roads in the spring

Dana H. Fowler, P.E., Special to The County
5 years ago

The recent warm weather gives us hope that spring is on its way, but it also creates a problem for some of our roads. Water from the melting snow can get trapped in the upper level of the roadway gravel base and be unable to drain out due to the frozen ground underneath.  

This situation produces a roadway surface that is susceptible to damage from traffic that is driving over it.  Some of this damage includes potholes, various types of cracking, and rutting. The high cost of repairing the damage means that we must do everything possible to prevent damage to the pavement and gravel base layer.

Cars can certainly cause damage during the spring thaw, but trucks can cause much more damage because of their heavier weights.  The most effective method of preventing damage to roadways is to restrict the amount of weight trucks can carry. This is done all year long on all of our highways in the state, but during the spring thaw the governing authority that is responsible for a specific roadway can reduce the maximum weight that is allowed on the roadway.  This is commonly referred to as “posting the road.”

You will know if a road is posted when you see the bright orange Heavy Loads Limited posters on the utility poles near the roads that are posted.

Chapter 47 of the City Ordinances authorizes the city to post town ways.  The Public Works Division of the Department of Public Services has already posted our roads due to the warmer-than-normal temperatures that we have experienced.   The Maine Department of Transportation and other municipalities are responsible for posting roads over which they have jurisdiction.

There are some limited exemptions from posted roads that include two-axle home heating oil delivery trucks, school buses, public utility vehicles providing emergency repairs, highway maintenance vehicles, and wreckers towing a disabled vehicle of legal weight. These vehicles do not require a permit from the city to operate on posted roads.

A limited number of other vehicle types may be exempted from posted roads on a case-by-case basis at reduced weights.  These are typically service vehicles such as bulk milk, grain, grocery trucks, trash removal trucks engaged in normal route pickups, and medical gases trucks.  Drivers of these types of vehicles must obtain exemption permits from Presque Isle Public Works for town ways and from the MDOT for state highways. The permit must be carried in the vehicle operating on a posted road.

Vehicles engaged in routine construction, demolition or maintenance, gravel trucks, log trucks, concrete trucks, heavy equipment haulers or debris removal vehicles generally will not be granted exemption permits to haul on posted roads.

Applicants for exemption permits must meet several requirements in order to obtain a permit. These requirements may include cash payments or a bond in an amount sufficient to pay for any damage to the road caused by the permittee.   Exemption permits for town ways must be obtained from Presque Isle Public Works at 5 Missile Street.

Office hours are Monday through Thursday 6:00 am to 4:30 pm.  Please call 764-2560 in advance to avoid delays or unnecessary trips.

Dana H. Fowler, P.E., is public services director for the city of Presque Isle. He can be reached at 760-2707 or via email at dfowler@presqueisleme.us.