Weight restriction programs

Badly deteriorated roadway

The Frozen Road Period begins in Zones 3, 4, and 5 as of 12:01 a.m., Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Frozen Road Period was previously in effect in Zones 1 and 2.

From December 1 to May 1 every year, state highways in Wisconsin must withstand an extreme range of moisture and temperature conditions from -30 degrees Fahrenheit to +70 degrees Fahrenheit. These varying conditions affect the structural strength of the pavements and the base materials under the roadway.

Three distinct programs take advantage of the frozen pavement and sub-base conditions during the winter months and also protect pavement's weak conditions during the springtime freezing and thawing period.

These three programs include:

  1. The frozen road declaration that is normally in effect from mid-December to late February or early March.
  2. The Class II roads - typically lasts from early March until the first or second week in May.
  3. The springtime posted roads program normally from the second week in March until late April or early May.

All three of these programs apply only to the state highway system. Local county or township road maintenance authorities are responsible for determining when their roads are either frozen or thawing and whether sections should be posted for weight limitations. Questions related to weight restrictions on local or county roads should be referred to the maintaining authority for those roads. Regional transportation offices can be contacted to answer specific questions related to the state highway system in their region.

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

  • The 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 GVW 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.

Bridges with weight postings on Wisconsin Highways

Non-seasonal roadway postings (None at this time)

Detailed Explanation of Statute 348.27(9m)(a)4

Call (608) 266-8417 for a recorded message of the current status of the roads weight restrictions.

Related information

Other states' weight restriction programs


Allan Johnson, P.E.
WisDOT Winter Maintenance Engineer 

Questions about overweight/oversize permits:
Motor carrier services, oversize-permits.dmv@dot.wi.gov
(608) 266-7320