New York State Local Technical Assistance Program

I am a town highway superintendent and I have a newly reconstructed road where I want to post a weight limit of 15 tons. The road is being used as a short cut by tractor trailers and I want them to stay on the main state roads. What would be the process for establishing this weight limit?


The Vehicle and Traffic law section 1660(a) provides that the town board can restrict certain types of vehicles from town roads. In your case it may be more effective for the town board to develop specific truck route or routes that “force” truck traffic to use county and state roads. Limiting one road may move the problem to another location, which would not solve the overall issue. Setting up a truck route will reduce the likelihood that larger vehicles will cross-cut on another road. Truck route designations must be made by ordinance, order, rule or regulation for them to be enforceable (which is why the town board has this authority).

Any truck route must connect with state highways!

Also, there needs to be a justification for the posting such as the road cannot handle the loads or that the cut through traffic is a safety issue. Using weight limit signs just to limit trucks may not be effective, especially if there is no ability to enforce the limits.

Below is an excerpt from page 26 of the latest version of our Powers & Duties workshop manual

Town Highways
Vehicle and Traffic Law §1660(a) authorizes a town board - not the town superintendent of highways - with respect to town highways outside of villages, to:

a.    establish a system of truck routes for trucks having a total gross weight in excess of ten thousand pounds (this exclusion may not prevent the delivery or pickup of merchandise or other property by trucks normally excluded). Any truck route must provide suitable connection with all state routes entering or leaving such town (subdivision 10)

b.    exclude trucks, commercial vehicles, tractors, tractor-trailer combinations, tractor-semitrailer combinations, or tractor-trailer-semitrailer combinations from highways specified by the town board or set hours for operation. This exclusion may not prevent the delivery or pickup of merchandise or other property along the highway by trucks otherwise excluded
(Subd. 17 and 28).

Note: the above provisions allow for permanent exclusions rather than a temporary exclusion.

c.    temporarily exclude any vehicle with a gross weight of over four or more tons
(subdivision 11).

d.    temporarily exclude any vehicle with a gross weight in excess of any designated weight on any wheel, axle, any number of axles, or per inch width of tire when in the town board’s opinion the highway would be materially injured by the operation of the vehicle
(subdivision 11).

These temporary exclusions take effect upon the erection of signs and a newspaper notice of the exclusion.

Permit Exceptions for Temporary Exclusions:

It is also important to note that the town board may issue a permit exempting vehicles from these temporary exclusion rules if it finds that the excluded vehicle “is performing essential local pickup or delivery service and that a failure to grant such permit would create hardship.”


Quick Answer 210 Weight

Powers & Duties of Local Highway Officials

NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law Article 39 Section 1640


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