Oversize load permits in California

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Transportation of goods

General - Permits are valid for 7 days. Travel is permitted from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset, although the Department of Transportation may grant night and weekend operations depending on the dimensions of the load. Night and weekend travel must be requested at time of ordering.

To be eligible for an oversize or overweight (or "extralegal") permit, the main criterion is that the load be non-reducible, that is, that it cannot be reduced down and transported in a legal vehicle.

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Divisible load permits are not available. Vehicles with lift axles are allowed overweight permits if inspected by Department of Transportation.

The permit shall be carried in the vehicle to which it refers at all times while the vehicle is within the highway limits. (California Vehicle Code (CVC), Section 35783)

When height of load exceeds legal limit, it becomes the responsibility of the permittee to check all underpasses, over-crossings, bridges, overhead wires or other structures for impaired vertical clearance and to arrange clearance or request alternate routing before commencing travel.

All loads/vehicles over 8'-6" in width, 80 feet in length or more than 10 feet of overhang shall display warning signs. Signs shall be posted on the front and rear of the vehicle or on the front of the lead vehicle and the rear of the back trailer with multi-vehicle combinations. Signs shall have black letters on a yellow background and comply with Section 502.9 of the Departments "Transportation Permit Manual". Flags shall comply with Section 25104 of the CVC.

Use of Platform Trailers – 
The California Department of Transportation’s long standing policy is conventional trailers must be used when possible on California highways. This policy was discussed and agreed to by representatives of the trucking industry through the Caltrans Advisory Committee (CAC), more than 10 years ago.

However, platform trailers may be allowed only as the last resort in situations where conventional hauling equipment cannot be used. Approval to use platform type trailers requires a policy exemption. The customer is responsible for explaining why conventional hauling equipment cannot be used and providing supporting documentation.

Policy exemptions are considered on a case-by-case basis. If an exemption to use platform trailers is approved, the customer will be required to mitigate the impacts that platform trailers may have on California highways. This may include the following costs:
 - Perform and assess current roadway condition (e.g. coring sample)
 - Provide pavement analysis (stamped by a registered civil engineer)
 - Provide restitution for the reduction in pavement service-life
 - Provide protection for highway and bridge facilities (e.g. steel plating, blanket of asphalt concrete, etc…)
 - Provide monitoring of pavement conditions during the move
 - Restore state facilities to pre-move condition

All requests must be supported with documentation detailing or outlining the steps that the customer has taken to comply with California’s laws and the Department’s oversize and overweight policies.

Insurance - Not required to be on file. Exempt carriers must have public liability insurance of $600,000; ICC-regulated carriers must follow federal standards ($750,000-$5,000,000, depending on the commodity hauled and hazardous nature).

Weekend/Night Travel "Darkness" as defined in the California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 280…. any time from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise...". Reference to "sunset" and/or "sunrise" on the permit includes this one-half hour grace period before and after sunrise and sunset.

Holiday – Loads that request travel during holidays, or travel across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay
Bridge (SFOBB) may be subject to restricted travel days or times.
See “Special Conditions for Holiday Travel” for restrictions that apply during holiday periods. In summary, holiday travel is prohibited when the the movement requires an escort. 

Restricted holidays are:
 - New Years Day, January 1st
 - Washington’s Birthday, 3rd Monday in February
 - Memorial Day, Last Monday in May
 - Independence Day, 4th of July
 - Labor Day, 1st Monday in September
 - Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November
 - Christmas Day, December 25th

Restricted 4:00 pm – 12:00 am the day before the holiday and from 12:00 pm – 12:00 am on the holiday or days of the holiday weekend. Travel is authorized, subject to 24/7 policy, from 12:00 am or sunrise to 12:00 pm during any of the prohibited days or times.

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Inclement Weather – Movement shall not occur in snow, fog, rain or wind when visibility is restricted to less than 1,000 feet (304.8 meters). Movement is prohibited when road surfaces are hazardous due to rain, ice, snow or frost, or when use of tire chains is mandatory. In addition, manufactured housing shall not move when the velocity of the wind is such that it causes the vehicle being towed to whip or swerve from side-to-side or fail to follow substantially in the path of the towing vehicle.

Any accident caused by excessive wind or weather conditions shall be considered a prima facie violation of this condition.

Permit Information Required - Tractor and semi-trailer information; load description and dimensions; overall dimensions; kingpin setting; applies to tractor/semi-trailer >65'; pier and berth locations (when applicable); origin and destination; routes to be traveled; effective dates.

Single Trip – 7 Consecutive days duration. A single trip permit is from a single origin to a single destination in one direction of travel. Single item non-reducible only.

Variance Permit - All applications over 15 feet in width, 17' in height or over 17', over 135 feet in length, or on special hauling equipment which exceeds the Department's standard method of weight classification must be approved by special processing. Written route surveys are required from the applicant for heights equal to or greater than 17'-0 ".

Variance requests shall be submitted to the Transportation Permit Office no later than 30 days in advance of the proposed move. The application should be addressed "Attention Variance Coordinator." Applications shall include inspection reports, engineering justification from the manufacturer and drawing of the item(s) to be moved.

In addition to the above, the variance program provides a means to apply for exception to policy when good cause exists. Written application should explain the nature of the need for exception and what safety measures will be taken.

Annual – One-year duration. Available for certain envelope loads or specific vehicles on specified highways.

Repetitive – Maximum 90-day duration. Basically a single-trip permit for the delivery of the same load over the same route on a repeated basis. They may be renewed after expiration.
Repetitive permits are not available for variance loads.
Repetitive permits are available for vehicles or vehicle-combinations hauling a load with the following dimensions:
 - Height = 14' - 6" max.
 - Width = 12' - 0" max.
 - Length = 90' - 0" max.
Repetitive permits with load(s) are valid for one-way travel only. A separate permit might be required for the unladen return trip if the vehicle is extralegal in length. 

Single Trip – $16
Annual – $90
Repetitive - $90

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