Rules govern transport of wide loads
Can you find out what is the policy/law regarding transportation of wide loads on the highway? At about 3 p.m. Oct. 30, there was a modular building company's truck towing a portable building (with a motorcycle police escort) on the H-3 freeway from the Windward side all the way to the H-1 freeway, then continuing west on H-1. This truck and load purposely drove right in the center of two lanes throughout the entire route. There was no way of safely getting around this load on the H-3 freeway, which only has two lanes. I don't think it was necessary for them to take up two lanes. If the load was too wide for one lane, it was probably illegal. But the police escort apparently condones this action. If this is illegal, can the Police Department be reminded of the law? It seems to me that if a load cannot be transported on one lane, then it should not be on the road at 3 p.m., if ever.
Answer: There were several things wrong with this scenario, beginning with the fact that the company did not have a permit from the state Department of Transportation to transport a "wide load" on that date or route.
"Permits are good for up to seven days, and the transporting party must disclose which route will be taken," explained transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa.
It also appears that the police escort did nothing to mitigate the transport of the portable building.
Loads that are 12 feet wide or wider require police escorts. Under normal conditions, loads that are 12 feet wide are able to travel in a single lane, Ishikawa said.
"Police escorts may, though, in their discretion, direct the permittee to take up a second lane if they feel it is a safety issue," he said.
However, he also pointed out that conditions of the permit state, "if necessary, the vehicle shall be moved away from the traveled way at frequent intervals to allow traffic to pass."
Third, loads that are between 9 feet and 13 feet 11 inches wide are to be transported between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., while loads larger than 14 feet are supposed to be moved between 12:30 and 5 a.m. (under Chapter 291-36 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes and Section 15-21.1 to 15.21.15 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu).
The transport in question should not have taken place after 3 p.m. unless it was an emergency, Ishikawa said.
The penalty for first-time violators is fines ranging from $50 to $250. The fine amounts could double with each subsequent violation, based on the judge's discretion, Ishikawa said.
Asked what role HPD has in making sure that a permit has been issued, as well as expediting travel for all motorists, he said the Transportation Department permits staff "will remind all parties involved about the required permits for wide loads, as well as allowing traffic to pass in the event the load takes up both lanes."
Anyone noticing a wide load being transported illegally outside the designated times is asked to take down the company name, license number or truck serial number and call the Transportation Department at 831-6714.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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