Photo: Jim Park

Photo: Jim Park

A newly released GAO report prepared for Congressional committees holds that the Federal Highway Administration should research how oversize/overweight highway loads are permitted to develop best practices that can be shared with State authorities. These best practices are meant to improve the agency’s “stewardship over the nation’s highways and bridges.”

In the 30-page document, GAO argues that while FHWA is charged in part with “regulating some aspects of vehicle size and weight and ensuring state enforcement of federal standards,” the agency “has an opportunity to do more.”

GAO stated that its review shows that how individual States regulate and enforce oversize and overweight loads—especially via their permitting practices—varies and that State agencies “lack information on how well the range of practices being used actually work.”

Pointing out that FHWA has previously worked with the trucking industry to a best practices guide on operating escort vehicles, GAO said that a study on State permitting practices and requirements conducted by the agency could “identify best practices to assist states in making decisions on their permitting practices.”

Specifically, GAO recommended that “the Secretary of Transportation direct the FHWA Administrator to take the following action: Conduct a study on state oversize- and overweight-permitting practices, including automated vehicle routing and escort-driver certification, to identify areas of best practice and share the results with States.”

Noting that it provided a draft of the report to the Department of Transportation for review and comment, GAO reported that “DOT concurred with our recommendation and provided written comments.”

In the DOT reply, Keith Washington, Acting Assistant Secretary for Administration, stated that the Department concurs with the recommendation to conduct a best-practices study of State permitting and that it “will provide a detailed response to the recommendation within 60 days of the Gao report issuance.”

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