Class II roads

Oversized truck on a frozen road.

No restrictions are currently in effect.

Roadway weight restrictions go into effect during the springtime freezing and thawing period, typically from early March until the second week in May. (The 36 year average beginning date for this period is March 10 and the average ending date is May 10.)

During this time when some pavements and base materials are at their weakest due to the freezing and thawing cycle occurring, most* divisible load multiple trip permits exceeding legal axle weights or 80,000 pounds are suspended. (*Divisible load permits authorized by Wis. Statutes 348.27(9m)(a)4. and 348.27(9t) may operate during spring thaw subject to terms of each permit.) During the thaw period overweight non-divisible multiple trip and single trip permits must stay off highway sections designated as Class II.

There are approximately 1,400 miles (94 segments) of bituminous highways on the Class II list during the springtime freezing and thawing period. Class II highways currently account for only 12 percent of the state highways.

Class II roads include only state highways that are judged to have unstable condition of the roadway subgrade during the period when frost is leaving the ground such that the travel of vehicles with overweight permits would cause undue damage to the roadway.

Local roads are affected by similar conditions and are posted or restricted as determined by the local maintaining authority.

In accordance with Wisconsin Statutes sections 348.26 and 348.27, the department may restrict travel of vehicles with overweight permits on certain (Class II) roads due to the unstable condition of the roadway subgrade during the period when frost is leaving the ground.

Typically, restrictions on travel include:

  1. Restrictions on maximum weight allowed for single-trip movement over Class II roads.
  2. Travel under annual non-divisible permits becomes more difficult because holders of overweight annual permits must avoid the Class II roads.
  3. Travel with single-trip or annual non-divisible overweight permits is not restricted on local or state roads in Milwaukee County or any part of the Interstate Highway System. In the remainder of the state, travel is not restricted under non-divisible annual permits on Class I roadways.

Also during this period, other travel restrictions apply:

  • Suspension of most divisible load permit types on all state highways for the duration of the thaw period. Exceptions are raw forest products at 98,000 lbs (RS) and potato seed (PS) permits.

For more information on divisible load permit restrictions, visit Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Motor Carrier Services.     

Important things to know with respect to permits involving 98,000 pounds on 6-axles:

  • Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is the only agency that may issue a “Raw Forest Products Permit” (RS Permit) per Wis Statute 348.27(9m)(a)4.
  • The RS Permit authorizes transport of “raw forest products” at Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of 98,000 lbs on vehicles or vehicle combinations with six or more axles none of which may exceed the axle weights set in the statute.
  • RS Permits are not valid on Interstate highways.
  • RS permits do not authorize exceeding posted weight limits, except for seasonal limits on marked State or US routes in connection with thawing of frozen roads.
  • During the spring thaw period established by WisDOT, the RS Permit allows transport on any highway that is marked State or US route including those posted to limit weights seasonally in connection with thawing of frozen roads. RS permits also remain valid during spring thaw on all other public roads but are subject to all posted weight limits, including seasonal limits.

For questions concerning overweight load permits, contact:

WisDOT DMV Permits Unit (608) 266-7320

Related information


Bill Wondrachek, P.E., WisDOT State Freight Engineer