If you’ve driven along State Road 135 from Trafalgar to Bargersville, chances are you’ve had to slow down or even pull over to allow semis with oversized loads to pass by.
Motorists don’t expect to see the wide loads on the two-lane portion of State Road 135, but orange flags, flashing yellow lights and “oversized load” banners have become a more frequent sight.
Semis with oversized loads have been using State Road 135 since April due to construction on Interstate 65 and lane-width restrictions on U.S. 31. State Road 135 was chosen as an alternative route because the lane width and restrictions on U.S. 31 make it the nearest north-south route for oversized semis, according to Nathan Riggs, Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman.
Lance Fisher, who lives just north of Trafalgar at State Road 135 and County Road 300S, noticed the semis passing though the two-lane portion of State Road 135 near his home. For several hundred feet, State Road 135 is a narrow no-passing zone with guardrails on each side of the road. Fisher has seen several cars that had to slow down or pull off the road to make room for the semis with oversized loads, Fisher said.
“I saw a semi with an oversized load have to get away from the guardrail so it crossed the center line and parts of the trailer were taking up the oncoming lane,” Fisher said. “A car heading toward it had to completely stop and pull over to the side. It’s become a hazard.”
He said he’s been noticing them more often, too, wondering if this will be something residents will see on a regular basis.
It might be. While it’s just a temporary reroute, the reason for it could have semis with oversized loads using State Road 135 for quite some time. Until construction ends on I-65 between Franklin and Greenwood, the alternative route along State Road 135 will be used, according to the Indiana Department of Revenue, which monitors requests to haul oversized loads on Indiana roads.
The increase in oversized loads taking State Road 135 is due to construction on I-65 that has narrowed what used to be 12-foot lanes to 11-foot lanes. The lane restriction doesn’t allow for oversized loads to use the road. U.S. 31 from Franklin to I-465 in Indianapolis has the same restriction because the lanes are only 11 feet wide.
Oversized loads can range from 13 to 16 feet in width, which is wider than lanes on State Road 135, causing many drivers to move to the side of the road as the semis pass by.
While INDOT recently finished a four-mile stretch of construction on I-65 and added a lane, work on an 11-mile stretch between Greenwood and Franklin won’t be done until the beginning of 2017. And until that work, which will add a third lane, is complete, narrow lanes with barrier walls on each side will force oversized loads to use the alternative route along State Road 135.
At exit 76 in Taylorsville, oversized load semis exit and take U.S. 31 north to State Road 252 in Amity. From there, the semis go west and pick up State Road 135 in Trafalgar, where they head north to Thompson Road in Indianapolis. At that point, the semis head back to U.S. 31 and get on I-465, according to the Indiana Department of Revenue.
Semis could qualify as having oversized loads for one of many reasons including height, weight and width.
Any semi with an oversized load has to apply for a permit with the department of revenue, Riggs said.
Most permits are granted; and as long as applications are filed by 3:30 p.m., they can be used the same day, according to the Indiana Department of Revenue. The only restrictions on oversized loads that would warrant denial of a permit is a load that is more than 16 feet wide, longer than 110 feet or more than 120,000 pounds, according to the Indiana Department of Revenue oversize and overweight handbook.
The applications have to include what they’re hauling, where they’re going, number of axles on the tractor and how the equipment is loaded. Applicants are approved, and routes where the semi will be able to pass through safely are assigned. When normal routes are closed or won’t accommodate the size of an oversized load, department representatives in that district decide on the route that will be used, Riggs said.
“This is pretty common. While it’s a problem or inconvenience, you have to remember it’s temporary,” Riggs said. “And you also have to remember that this is an inconvenience for the trucks as well. When this has to be done, the department just focuses on rerouting in the safest way possible.”
A driver must obtain an oversize and/or overweight vehicle permit before traveling on Indiana roads to ensure safety if the vehicle exceeds:
- 13 feet 6 inches in height
- 8 feet 6 inches in width
- 60 feet (two-vehicle combination) or 53 feet (tractor-semitrailer combination) in length
- 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (subject to axle weights)