February 2014

The northwest region of the United States has been the subject of a three-phase study documenting the transport agreements and permitting procedures of the involved states. The lack of coordination between states on issues such as regulation for oversize/overweight (OSOW) truck loads has maintained high costs for long-distance carriers. The price of transportation directly impacts the competitiveness of industries in the northwest region and the size of the markets they can reach.

In the Northwest Passage Permitting — Phase 3 project (CFIRE 06-02) CFIRE Executive Director Teresa Adams continued her evaluation of the northwest freight corridor. The project brought together a core group of permit regulators from the regions’ state DOTs as well as engineers and managers to discuss existing regulation, uniform standards, and enacting policies.


NW Passage Permitting Participants

Continuing from Phase 2, the core group agreed to a regional set of standards for OSOW loads that could be enforced by all participating states. These standards included the submitted information, signing, lighting, escorts, and hours of operation but did not include weights. Implementation of these standards would reduce the regulatory costs of the trucking industry and reduce the costs of shipping overall.

Core group discussion also included a bundled web portal to streamline the permitting process for crossing multiple states. This XML-based portal would be able to communicate between permitting web systems from different states. This type of system has already been in development for use with Minnesota and Wisconsin’s permitting process.

The project team, including management, also addressed MAP-21, which provided over $100 billion to transportation projects across the country. State agencies were recommended to re-evaluate their freight systems in context of this emerging national freight policy.

Phase 3 of the Northwest Passage Permitting Project (NPPP), in addition to proposing unified standards and future freight policies, identified areas of future research for planning state freight policies. Interviews with state DOT engineers showed that a uniform system for maximum weight was unlikely, but also concluded that more research on the incremental damage of large axle weights is needed: large axle weights are inevitable with OSOW loads, and cause disproportionate damage to state highways. This lack of data is one of the reasons for the differences in OSOW regulation between states, and further research will support coordination of OSOW permit regulations.

For more information, and to read the final report, visit the CFIRE 06-02 project page.


On February 11, 2014 MAFC Program Manager Ernie Perry and CFIRE Executive Director Teresa Adams joined the ASCE NW branch for a site visit of Lock and Dam 8 at Genoa, Wisconsin. This lock is currently undergoing renovation and is completely dewatered, allowing attendees a unique opportunity to see the maintenance on the lock’s miter gates, bubbler system, and walls.

Lock and Dam 8 sees roughly 1500 commercial and 4500 recreational locks during the open-water season that lasts from April to December. The 600-foot lock is undergoing maintenance during the winter while the Upper Mississippi is closed to navigation. This 20-year maintenance doubles the number of USACE employees to more than forty.

Perry and Adams attended this event as part of their work with the Wisconsin Commercial Ports Master Plan and as part of CFIRE’s ongoing support of marine freight in the Mid-America Freight Coalition (MAFC).

WisDOT Economic Development and Freight Section Chief

February 19, 2014

Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Madison, Wisconsin The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is seeking an Economic Development and Freight Section Chief. This position directs the development of new state strategies to address the growing importance of transportation’s support of the state’s economy. This involves difficult negotiations with high level officials in other agencies, local and […]

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