WYDOT clarifies weight restrictions on WYO 353
by Wyoming Department of Transportation
July 22, 2011
PINEDALE – Officials at WYDOT have imposed a temporary weight restriction on WYO 350 due to culvert pipes that have failed. It is the only way to keep the highway open safely.
During a pavement-resurfacing project, seven deteriorating culvert pipes were discovered that required WYDOT to lower the maximum weight limit allowed on the highway until the pipes can be replaced. Out of the seven pipes involved, two had failed seriously and one had created a large hole in the highway.
WYDOT District Engineer, John Eddins said, "Even without the restriction, all divisible loads such as cattle and gravel would have to be within legal limits to travel on WYO 353 and only indivisible overweight loads would be allowed by overweight permit."
The following maximum weight restrictions on WYO 353 went into effect on July 19, 2011 and are in effect until further notice:
Single axle: 12,000 lbs.
Double axle: 24,000 lbs.
Triple axle: 36,000 lbs.
Eddins said WYO 353 is still open and that gravel haulers and the public can continue to haul their loads, but they still need to meet the lighter weight limits. While the weight restriction is in effect, no overweight permits will be issued.
Wyoming State Law states that any overweight load that can be divided is not allowed on any WYDOT highway.
Pete Hallsten, WYDOT resident engineer in Pinedale, said if the reduced weight limit had not have been placed on the road, there was a good chance there would have been a catastrophic failure, making it unusable and WYDOT would have had to completely close the road.
"We feel it is our mission to accommodate the truck traffic on WYO 353, and we did, but it got to the point where the road was failing and we couldn’t let that happen. It would have been irresponsible to let the road fail as it would have placed a huge burden on the residents that live out there, by forcing them to drive all the way around," he said.
Plans are being put in place to have the contractor replace the failing pipes. The work will include placing the new pipe, backfilling with lean concrete and then continue with the pavement overlay that was in progress. Hallsten said the concrete would have an accelerator added to cure it faster and allow the road to be reopened to traffic with the normal weight limit as quickly as possible.
He said the plan is to fill in around the elliptical pipes with enough concrete to bring it up to the road surface before completing the pavement overlay. The concrete will also strengthen the pipes, making them more able to accommodate heavier truck traffic.
Although the culverts will be able to take a heavier load, Hallsten cautioned that the rest of the road would not, so it is crucial that traffic haul no more than the legal load limit. He also noted that the new pipes are longer than the pipes that were installed in 1949 and this would help improve the drainage and should reduce the amount of maintenance they need.
WYDOT apologizes for the inconvenience, but for safety reasons, lowering the weight limits is the only way to keep the highway open until the repairs are complete. WYDOT anticipates returning the weight limits to the normal legal limits after the pipes are replaced.