Questions and Answers: COLONIAL PIPELINE EMERGENCY – FMCSA/FHWA – MAY 11, 2021
QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
COLONIAL PIPELINE EMERGENCY
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration / Federal Highway Administration
May 12, 2021
Q: What does this announcement mean?
A: It allows the identified States that have existing major disaster declarations in place to increase weight limits on their Interstate roads.
Q: What can States do to increase weight limits for trucks to help with fuel shortages?
A: State have a range of legal authorities, and we are encouraging them to make use of these. For example:
- States are issuing Emergency declarations and giving their state DOTs broad authority to allow overweight vehicles to operate on roads other than the Interstate System.
- States issue permits for overweight trucks on specific routes to ensure those locations – particularly bridges on these routes – have the capacity to safely handle the increased weights.
- Some States are issuing additional relief, such as waivers for fuel trucks to allow them to bypass State weigh stations and inspection stations.
Q: Why can’t States raise the weight limits on Interstates for fuel trucks?
A: They can, but only in certain circumstances.
- Federal law imposes weight limitations on the Interstate System. There are some exceptions to the limitations, but most do not apply here.
- However, one such exception allows States to issue special permits for vehicles and loads that are delivering relief supplies when:
- The President declares the emergency is a “major disaster” under the Stafford Act; and
- The State permits are issued in accordance with State laws and regulations; and
- The permits are for delivery of essential services, in this case gasoline and other fuel.
- By statute, the State’s authority to issue special permits expires 120 days after the President issues the major disaster declaration.
Q: Does the FMCSA Declaration issued on May 9 include ethanol?