Florida lifts restrictions for trucks in hurricane relief effort

| 8/20/2004

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has issued an executive order waiving some normal restrictions for trucks aiding the relief effort for victims of Hurricane Charley, according to a notice from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

Bush’s order directed the Florida Department of Transportation to “waive the size and weight restrictions for divisible loads on any vehicles transporting emergency equipment, services and supplies allowing the establishment of alternate size and weight restrictions for all such vehicles for the duration of the emergency.”

The Florida Department of Transportation has established the following alternate size and weight restrictions for the duration of the emergency:

  • Vehicles 8 feet, 6 inches wide or less may travel all days, all hours.
  • Vehicles that exceed 8 feet, 6 inches in width up to 14 feet wide may travel all days (daytime hours only.) The vehicles must be marked and have working lights in accordance with current laws and federal requirements.

The DOT also issued several temporary movement requirements for trucks involved in the relief effort:

  • Vehicles exceeding 10 feet in width, up to 12 feet wide are to travel with one amber rotating light while operating on state maintained roadways in Florida.
  • Vehicles greater than 12 feet wide, up to 14 feet wide are to travel with one certified escort and 4 amber rotating lights while operating on state maintained roadways in Florida.

Truckers carrying relief supplies into Florida need to carry a copy of the Bush letter with them, just as they would a permit. Lt. Vicki Thomas with the motor carrier compliance unit at the Florida DOT said truckers can get a copy of the letter at any of the incoming weigh stations near Florida’s northern border – especially those on Interstates 95 and 75.

“At those locations, they have a copy of every executive order issued by the governor, every permit restriction that has been lifted,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the state is stressing that truckers who are not involved directly in providing relief for hurricane victims should not attempt to use the special waivers.

“They’ve got to have a shipping paper that has something listing the cargo where we can determine whether it’s legit or not,” she said. “If they’re hauling watermelons, obviously no, they can’t (use the waivers); if they’re hauling generators, building materials, building supplies, air conditioners, obviously they are legit.”

A letter from Bush’s office said the rules would be in effect until 30 days from the date of the letter, which was Aug. 14. Thomas could not say at this time whether DOT expected Bush to extend the order

Truckers who need more information on the governor’s order can call the I-95 southbound weigh station at (904) 548-0070.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is also encouraging its member states to honor Florida's waiver and allow unrestricted movement of vehicles covered under the temporary Florida rules if those trucks are delivering emergency equipment, services and supplies.

– by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor