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Oversized Cargo Transportation: A Massive Undertaking

November 23, 2022
 By Heavy Haul and Oversized
Oversized Cargo Transportation: A Massive Undertaking
Last Modified: June 23, 2023
If you are trying to transport a larger than normal load, then this article is for you. Learn the ins and outs of oversized cargo transportation.
Oversized Load?   |   Dimensions   |   Equipment   |   Shipping   |   Rates   |   Start Shipping

When it comes to oversized cargo transportation, moving large objects like bulldozers, cranes, mobile homes, tractors, and more takes skill, proper equipment, and careful coordination. Oversized cargo logistics in the transportation industry is used to determine who is responsible for the movement of such equipment.

The FHWA and DOT regulate federal requirements for weight and dimensional standards on vehicles moving oversized loads. Under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), these rules are defined and enforced to maintain motor safety on the nation’s roads and highways. Individual states also reserve the right to impose restrictions.

Oversize cargo transportation is a monumental giant of a task. The article below will give you insight into everything surrounding the movement of your not-so-average-sized load.

What is an Oversized Load?

When people ask, “what is an oversized load?” The answer is simple: an oversized load is a shipment that exceeds the legal maximums in height, width, length, and weight for a domestic shipment. However, each state has individually determined its maximums.

With that said, it is imperative to identify both routes that your goods will travel and the states they go through to know whether or not your load falls within the restrictions outlined by each state. Local municipalities should also be consulted in the event of additional regulations.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) under The Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for ensuring compliance with transport regulations. Additionally, they work with certain states to ensure compliance.

It is essential that any regulations from either a federal or state agency are met to avoid the following:

  • Damage to infrastructure
  • Bridge and road damage
  • Congestion or blockage to traffic
  • Physical injury

There is a very high risk associated with oversized cargo loads to cause various amounts of damage and injury if not properly managed. This risk assessment is why obtaining the appropriate permits and guidance from the federal and state levels is so important.

The FHWA and the DOT will issue any necessary permits and assist with the legalities of transporting any oversize cargo along with a potential superload. A state association may also be interested in helping plan and move your oversize cargo.

Our article on bulldozer transport will help you when you need to move this specific type of oversize freight.

Oversized load on a barge

Oversized Load Dimensions

One of the most critical factors when shipping oversize cargo is identifying the load dimensions. The reasoning behind identifying the exact dimensions is so that you can comply with any federal or state, or local municipality rules and regulations when moving oversized cargo.

The federal DOT and its sub-department, the FHWA, have strict regulations. These regulations determine the maximum allowable oversize load requirements. Specialized permits are available for loads requiring greater length, width, and height.

DOT – FHWA oversized load dimension regulations:

  1. Length: A truck/tractor plus the trailer cannot be longer than 53ft without a permit. Loads meeting or exceeding 65ft will require additional permits and the use of pilot cars.
  1. Width: The widest load without a permit is 8.5ft. However, wide loads can go up to 12.5 ft with a permit. When loads reach or exceed 16ft will require additional permits and the use of a pilot car.
  1. Height: There is no federal height regulation currently. The average height limit within the various states is between 13ft and 14.5ft.

Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (FDOT) example of state regulations for oversized load dimensions:

  1. Length: The maximum allowable length is 50ft; anything greater will require additional permits and pilot cars.
  1. Width: Width may be at most 8.5ft; if it does, a permit may be issued to allow up to 12ft in width.
  1. Height: The maximum allowable height is 14ft
  1. Extras: If a load exceeds 12 ft in width, 18ft in total height, 150ft in length, and is up to 200,000 lbs, special permits are required while coordinating with FDOT.

These weight limits per axle exemplify the mandated maximum allowable limits. Although these maximums are on a federal level, the states ultimately hold jurisdiction on these loads. The space between axles is another consideration under federal and state law.

Oversize Load Weight Limits 23 CFR Part 658.17

Number of AxlesTotal Weight Allowed
Single Axle20,000 lbs
Double Axle34,000 lbs
Gross Vehicle80,000 lbs
Source: ops.fhwa.dot.gov

Remember, this example for Florida is only the standard for some states in the U.S. Each state has regulations governing maximum length, width, height, and weight. Certain states, like Hawaii, have greater width maximums, so it is essential to know what is allowed.

When using a trusted partner like Heavy Haul and Oversized, we will ensure that your oversized cargo meets all requirements, and if additional permits are required, we will have them in place, so there are zero delays on your shipment.

Oversize Cargo Transportation Equipment

The type of equipment used in hauling oversized cargo is unique. Heavy haul or oversized loads are not transported through dry van trailers or intermodal cargo containers. Instead, oversized loads are typically transported on specific heavy haul trailers.

The trailer types for oversized cargo and heavy haul can start with two-axel flatbed trailers all the way up to 19-axle expandable trailers. The following illustrates a large sample of what kind of trailer equipment is used to transport oversized cargo.

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Trailer Equipment:

  1. Flatbed trailer (expandable)
  2. Drop deck three axle (expandable)
  3. Double drop long boy 2 or 3 axles (expandable)
  4. Expandable flatbed
  5. High tonnage double drop 6 and 9 axle – floor deck (expandable)
  6. Schnable with steerable dolly 6 and 9 axle
  7. High tonnage double drop 10 and 13 axles (expandable)
  8. High tonnage RGN double drop 10 axles (expandable)
  9. Expandable blade trailer
  10. High tonnage 19 axles (expandable)

Oversized logistics depend on having an available volume of a wide variety of trailers to accommodate any oversized load. Every load is different, so selecting an oversized cargo logistics partner is crucial.

These trailers are used to haul incredibly large loads of all types and sizes. Some examples of these loads range from aircraft engines to cranes and bulldozers. Whatever the size of your load Heavy Haul and Oversized can accommodate.

Oversize load

Shipping Oversized Loads

Whenever you ship oversized loads, it is a much more complicated process than that of an average load. Complexities revolve around dimensions and how they relate to federal, state, or local laws and regulations.

Shipping oversized loads require the help of an industry professional who knows the ins and outs and has access to the proper transportation equipment and other resources necessary to move your oversized load.

Things to consider when shipping oversized loads:

  1. Identify your load dimensions: You must obtain accurate dimensions so the proper equipment can be utilized. Getting this information will be helpful in research/planning and route management.
  1. Research and plan ahead: With the dimensions of the load in hand and the proper equipment in use. Research and planning can be done to identify the route needed and the permits and accessories equipment that will be required for shipping.
  1. Route management and communication: With the assistance of a transportation management system (TMS), the oversized load is shipped in conjunction with any accessory vehicles like pilot cars. 

There are several methods for shipping oversized cargo in transportation. The mode of transportation required largely depends on factors of cargo dimensions, distance, and terrain traveled.

Oversized Cargo Transportation Market Outlook 2020 – 2024

Growth Leading Into 20205.91%
CAGR Rate3.00%
Incremental Growth$40 Billion
Source: businesswire.com

With today’s advanced technologies, loading, unloading, shipment management, and overall visibility have significantly improved over the years. These advancements include various mobile technologies like global positioning systems and permit management software.

The pros to using permit management software are that it allows precise planning around ascertaining the appropriate permits for the states and local municipalities your oversized load passes through during a shipment.

To avoid the hassle of meticulously planning every aspect of a shipment, hire a freight broker like Heavy Haul and Oversized to ensure your oversized load is transported correctly.

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Oversize Load Shipping Rates

The rate of your oversized load mainly depends on multiple factors. The type of equipment used in terms of tractor and trailer, along with what’s being shipped, will affect the rate. Also, distance traveled, required permits, and time frame will also play into the rate.

Typically, the rate per mile for shipping begins at around $2, with oversized and heavy hauls starting at about $10 per mile. The rate itself will increase exponentially depending upon factors of the following.

  • Length
  • Width
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Trailer Type
  • Shipping Date
  • Distance Traveled

The example rates above only provide a rough idea regarding oversized cargo shipping rates. These rates largely depend on the oversized load logistics carrier and their pricing structure.

Our article on oversize shipping regulations will help you determine what steps you need to take when shipping this type of freight.

Start Shipping Heavy Haul Oversized Cargo Today

Shipping heavy haul, and oversized goods require both skill and the proper equipment. The Heavy Haul and Oversized team are standing by to help transport your oversized loads anywhere and at any time.

Our team of industry experts has set the gold standard in the industry, offering an unparalleled level of service and support with unmatched visibility. Our dedicated team provides a suite of services such as

  • Dedicated experts: Personalized advice with a live consultant.
  • Latest equipment: The latest and best available equipment at your fingertips.
  • Route mapping: The most accurate and effective route planning in heavy cargo shipping.

Our commitment to your needs is absolute, and our job isn’t complete until your oversized cargo has reached its destination. Our industry experts are ready to take your call and get those oversized loads on the roads of America! You can contact us at (855) 490-2433 or click today.

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