Every year to maximize the life span of county highways and roads, annual spring load restrictions are placed on numerous roads within the 512-mile Wright County highway system. The decision to set the start and end dates for placing weight restrictions on vehicles that can drive on certain roads comes from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the turnaround time is extremely short – the announcement typically comes on a Thursday or Friday with implementation beginning at 12:01 a.m. the following Monday.
The Wright County Highway Department wants to give a head’s up to those who will be impacted by the annual spring load restrictions to be mindful that, given the extreme rarity of the warm weather we have witnessed this winter – including rain showers in early-to-mid-February – when the call from MnDOT comes in, it will likely be far sooner that the average restriction start date.
Since the 2010-11 winter season, 11 of the last 13 winters have seen the spring load restrictions placed on in March, with seven of those not taking effect until March 16 or later. Only twice in that period have the restrictions been placed in February – Feb. 29 in 2016 and Feb. 21 in 2017.
While the decision to put the restrictions in place comes from MnDOT, the Wright County Highway Department wants to warn those who need to move heavy equipment prior to the restrictions starting (the restrictions can last between four and eight weeks). The department reminds residents that the decision hasn’t been made yet, but it will likely be coming soon, since the level of thaw at the MnROAD facility on I-94 has the level of thaw at 12 feet deep and the level of frost at just 24 feet. With record-setting temperatures this week, the level between the two has shrunk even more.
The Highway Department asks that if you know anyone who needs to move equipment before the restrictions take place to make them aware that the clock is ticking on getting that work done and the restrictions are likely coming in the next couple of weeks instead of in March.