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Weight restrictions

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Rutting and road damage on WY116, photo from Wyoming Department of Transportation
Alexis Barker, NLJ News Editor

Heavy trucks contributing to deteriorating road conditions on WY 116

Heavy trucks may be in for a longer haul through Weston County after new weight restrictions go into effect on a stretch of road south of Upton this week.

Conditions on WY Highway 116 have led to the Wyoming Department of Transportation “suspending the current allowable weight.” According to a WYDOT press release, the changes go into effect on May 15, and the new weight limit will be 117,000 pounds.

“A recent highway road review was conducted along the Wyoming Highway 116 corridor due to accelerated and rapid roadway damage noted south of Upton from RM 2.5 to RM 5.5,” the release says. RM stands for reference marker. 

The release notes that the need for protecting the roadway comes from the “unexpected impact of heavier loads and increased frequency of truck traffic.”

According to WYDOT’s District 4 public relations specialist Laura Dalles, department foremen drive routes daily and monitor road conditions. These foremen then note any issues or damage to roadways that they encounter.

“If and when a road condition escalates past what falls within normal operations, the foremen will present the concern to their area maintenance supervisor and district maintenance engineer for further discussion on how to move forward,” Dalles told the News Letter Journal.

Because of these observations, WYDOT was required to take action, according to the release.

“Wyoming Highway 116 has seen a notable increase in heavy truck traffic due to the recent demand of transporting frac-sand from near Aladdin, WY to the north of Wright, WY,” the release says. “WYO Highway 116 currently requires a Class W permit for vehicles weighing more than 117,000 lbs.”


Following a request from District 4, which covers northeast Wyoming, the department’s materials lab conducted a review of the roadway. The review included the study of measured rut depth, obtained surface cores and performance base/type/depth determinations, the release says.

“This study found excessive rutting, horizontal cracking, and pavement failure have increase(d) substantially in isolated areas and have also resulted in portions of sub-base soils failing as well — due in some part to the increase in traffic volumes and the number of haul trucks with weights allowed by the Class W permit,” the release says.

After reviewing the study, the materials lab recommended that gross weights be limited to 117,000 pounds in accordance with formula limitations, that reduced speeds be posted at heavily damaged areas, that the areas that are heavily damaged are repaired and restrictions are reevaluated and that a “season load restriction” program be evaluated to avoid damage during the spring thaw when the subgrade is at its weakest.

The department, according to the release, will follow the weight restriction recommendation effective May 15.

Previous weight limits, according to Troy McAlpine, Wyoming Highway Patrol port of entry quality control analyst and overweight loads supervisor, varied heavily based
on the parameters of the permits issued. McAlpine noted that the average weight of a Class W in the area has been 143,000 pounds.

“The weight restrictions will be in place until such a time as remedial measures are undertaken to increase the load-bearing capacity of the highway,” the release says. “WYDOT feels that if we do not implement these restrictions, the road will deteriorate at an accelerated rate that funding will not be able to keep pace with, therefore rendering the route unsafe and potentially unpassable for motorists. This action will allow the highway to remain open for travelers and haulers bearing the new maximum weight load limits.”

Alternate routes for vehicles carrying more than the new weight limit are:

Route one: WY 111, Old Hwy 14, I-90 Bus., WY 585, US 85, US 16, WY 450  @ 138 miles

Route two: WY 24, US 14, US 16, WY 450  @ 179 miles

The bond schedule for violating weight restrictions in Wyoming can be found in the accompanying sidebar.

To address the issue in the future, the department has added the roadway to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan.

“The 2024 STIP has placed two WY 116 projects on its schedule. The first to be completed will be a mill and overlay on WY 116 from MM (mile marker) 16.60 to 22.50 north of Upton, in 2026 and a mill and overlay with isolated reconstruction on WY 116 south of Upton from MM 0 to 13.45 in 2027,” the release says.


2023 Bond Schedule for weight violations

31-18-802(a)(v) Violations weight limits

0 - 2,000 lbs $95.00

2,001–4,000 lbs $145

4,001–6,000 lbs $195

6,001–8,000 lbs $220

8,001–10,000 lbs $270

10,001–12,000 lbs $370

12,001–14,000 lbs $470

14,001–16,000 lbs $570

16,001–18,000 lbs $670

18,001–20,00 lbs $770

Plus an additional $200 for each 1,000 lbs. or fraction thereof exceeding 20,000 lbs. over the legal limits

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