Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What does half load restrictions mean?

Rural Half Load Season is upon us.

What does “half load restrictions” mean and why can’t you start working on my new house yet? This is a question that I receive from my clients every spring.

This question arises when we are working on larger building projects and they either start in the spring or the job runs from the winter into the spring. The questions usually arise because their project has been slowed down or there is a certain part of the job that hasn’t been accomplished or the project hasn’t even been started.

“Half load Restrictions” are a restrictions placed on the all rural roads in a municipality by the township or county. They literally mean that you can only have half the weight as a load on your vehicle. This does not affect passenger vehicles; it is aimed to larger vehicles such as dump trucks, delivery trucks, concrete trucks and heavy equipment floats that haul excavators and bulldozers. If you needed concrete you would have to have it delivered in a concrete truck that is only half full. This would mean that you would be paying more for your concrete because it would take twice as much time to deliver it and twice as much diesel fuel. If you needed an excavator delivered to your site to dig the hole for the foundation you would be out of luck because excavators are so heavy that they would violate the weight restrictions.

The reason for the restrictions on the roads? In the spring the frost comes out of the ground. As the moisture comes out of the road bed the road becomes softer, as the road becomes softer it becomes weaker. The heavier the load that is transferred across the road the more the road sinks and is misshapen. This can permanently damage the road and the road bed. So restrictions are placed on the road until the road and the road bed have had time to properly shed the frost (and moisture), then had time to dry. This allows the township to save money on not having to rebuild entire rural roads after every spring thaw.

So if you have a project that you just got permission from the township to start, other than having the building lot survived you actually wouldn’t be able to do anything on it until the half load restrictions are removed. Once the half load restrictions have been lifted you can bring in an excavator to dig the hole for the foundation and have dump trucks on site to carry away any unneeded earth. Even projects that are ongoing can be slowed down because the lumber yards are not allowed to ship you large heavy quantities of material all at once.

 The restrictions are not a set length of time. Every year the half load restrictions are a different length. If you have a really long winter with a lot of snow then the half loads could be on longer. If your spring is really wet and not very warm then the restrictions could be on longer. The restrictions are placed on the roads when the supervisor of the roads in the area deems that the roads need to be protected and will only come off when they feel that it is safe to drive on them again without major damage to the road and the road bed.
So if your builder tells you that he is having delays because of the half load restrictions then believe him because he is not telling you an excuse. If he tells you that you he has no idea when they will be lifted, he is also telling you the truth.

In the spring when you are having a project built or completed remember that you will need patience, it’s a busy time of year for your builder and busier still when he has to work around half load restrictions.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

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