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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Changes to Permitting System

The United States Government Accountability Office wants the federal government to issue guidelines to help states improve their permitting processes for oversize and overweight truckloads. The recommendation comes in the wake of the May 2013 collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge in Washington State.

Government investigations implicated several parties in the bridge strike that preceeded the collapse of the Skagit River Bridge. The truck driver did not report the accurate height of his load when he obtained his permit from Washington. The state, for its part, only requires one pilot car, and an additional pilot driver may have helped prevent the accident.

“GAO also found that permitting practices for oversize vehicles often vary by state,” said the GAO report. “In some cases, states follow similar practices; for example, most states make use of online permitting systems and escort vehicles that travel with an oversize or overweight vehicle. However, other permitting practices vary by state, such as states’ use of automated routing systems to provide a route for oversize vehicles.”

On the strength of these findings, the GAO has asked the Federal Highway Administration to further study the permitting procedures for all states and to develop a set of best practices that will ensure safety.