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Section 4: Changing Load Zones on County Roads and Bridges

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Law Ruling

Texas Transportation Code (§621.301) requires counties to obtain TxDOT concurrence for proposed county road and bridge load limits. Counties will petition TxDOT for concurrence with a load limit by submitting a request to the district engineer. The county’s request must include an engineer’s evaluation of the proposed change along with supporting documentation.

The procedure outlined in this section will help expedite review of county requests that involve emergency or other temporary situations that pose a risk to the public or potential damage to a road or bridge. The department is not responsible for monitoring county compliance with this amendment of the Transportation Code. Also, a change in a county road limit does not require an approved Commission Minute Order.

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Coordination between County and District

Each district will be responsible for communicating the requirements of the statute and providing information to the counties. The following table lists the steps that the district should take when a county submits a proposed change in load limits to the district engineer.

Anchor: #i1007179Table 12-3: Changing Load Zones on County Roads and Bridges

Step

Required Action

1

Determine if TxDOT concurrence is necessary.

  • A county must always obtain TxDOT concurrence for a proposed change in:
    • road load limits, or for a proposed road load limit on a county road built on a new location, if the proposed load limit is less than the legal load limit permissible under the Texas Transportation Code.
    • bridge load limits not supported by TxDOT inspections.
2

Check the completeness of the request.

3

Evaluate the request.

  • If the district does not have the resources or expertise to perform the review, contact CST for roads and Bridge Division for bridges to assist in evaluating the proposed change.
4

Provide written concurrence to the county.

  • If the submitted documentation and calculations accord with accepted engineering principles and practice, the district engineer should provide written concurrence to the county within 30 calendar days of receiving the complete request, including all supporting documentation.
  • If the district engineer does not respond within 30 calendar days, the county may consider the proposed limit to have TxDOT concurrence.
5

Provide the district pavement engineer with copies of concurrence correspondence.

  • If concurrence is given for changes in:
    • road load limits, provide the district pavement engineer with a copy of the county request, supporting documentation, and district concurrence letter for record purposes.
    • bridge load limits, provide the district bridge inspection office with the new load ratings and a copy of the documentation for updating the database.
6

Provide written notification withdrawing concurrence.

  • The district engineer may review a changed load limit and withdraw concurrence at any time by providing written notification to the county.
7

Review request for appeal.

  • The county may appeal a decision of the district engineer by submitting a written request along with the required documentation to the executive director of TxDOT.
  • The executive director will review the request to determine if department concurrence will be granted.
  • The executive director’s decision is final.

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Required Information and Supporting Documentation

The following table lists the required information and documentation that must be included in the request for changing load limits on county roads and bridges.

Anchor: #CFADHGJCTable 12-4: Required Information and Supporting Documentation

Roads

Bridges

  • Name, phone number, email address for a county contact person.
  • Route name/number, location, and length (in feet) of the section to be load zoned.
  • Reason for the proposed change.
  • The current and proposed limits. The Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) and allowable axle weights should be specified.
  • Evaluation of traffic loads based on a recommended 10-year interval.
  • Description of pavement typical sections and section limits, including layer thickness, material types, lane and shoulder widths, and curb and gutter locations, if applicable.
  • Pavement visual distress condition evaluation, including an engineering description of the pavement distress type and extent.
  • Date of the last rehabilitation or reconstruction performed on the road.
  • Engineering Analysis - Supporting documentation that has been sealed by a professional engineer and includes a visual evaluation of the pavement, a full-depth structural analysis, and calculations supporting the proposed load limit.
  • For a surfaced county road comparable to a state FM road or higher type pavement, an assessment of the pavement and layers is required within the project limits based on one of the following methods:
    • Manual field tests using the dynamic cone penetrometer or similar device;
    • Laboratory test results;
    • Deflection analysis based on the falling weight deflectometer or similar device; or
    • Other test methods based on accepted engineering practice.
  • For an unsurfaced county road or a county road constructed to a lower standard than is typical for the state maintained system: an assessment of the pavement and subgrade layers is required based on engineering judgment including a visual inspection.
  • Name, phone number, email address for a county contact person.
  • Route name/number, location, feature crossed, and structure number (if known).
  • Reason for the proposed change.
  • Supporting documentation that has been sealed by a professional engineer and includes a structural evaluation report documenting the condition of the bridge and calculations supporting the proposed limits. Calculations should include the inventory and operating ratings for the bridge as defined by the AASHTO Manual for Condition Evaluation of Bridges, Chapter 6.


For an optional method to determine the maximum allowable wheel load, when only the depth of cover and subgrade strength are known, the Pavement & Materials Systems Branch of CST-M&P has provided the following engineering analysis method based on the Texas Triaxial Classification Procedure ( Determining Allowable Pavement Load Limit using the Texas Triaxial Classification Procedure).


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