Rauner signs harvest season truck permit bill

New law will take effect in time for next year's harvest.

Starting in 2019, farmers will be able to exceed truck weight limits when hauling their crops at harvest time without needing to wait for a special proclamation from the governor. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)

By Kay Shipman

Illinois farmers gained new ability to efficiently haul crops during harvest starting in 2019 after Gov. Bruce Rauner signed HB 5749, an Illinois Farm Bureau legislative priority.

“Illinois has an agriculture workforce that is second to none, and this legislation will help them to more efficiently get their crops to market,” the governor said, signing the bill at the DuQuoin State Fair. Rauner noted neighboring states allow higher weight limits during harvest without a harvest emergency declaration that Illinois required through 2018.

Starting next year, the new law allows farmers to apply for a free special permit from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), according to Kevin Rund, IFB transportation specialist. Farmers are required to apply to local jurisdictions for permits on their roads.

Issued harvest season truck permits would be allowed annually between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31. In 2019, the new law will no longer require a gubernatorial declaration before farmers apply for the special permits.

Related: Visit this link for more harvest news

Rund explained a farmer would apply to IDOT for a free permit to haul up to 10 percent more than the gross vehicle weight on a state route, excluding interstate highways. A farmer would need to seek a permit from each road jurisdiction on the roads he or she travels as well, Rund added.

Local jurisdictions have the ability to allow or not allow trucks to operate at higher weights on their roads just as they did under the previous harvest season emergency system, Rund pointed out. Each local road jurisdiction may also waive the requirement to carry a written permit, he added.

For county roads, Rund advised farmers to contact the respective county engineer. He recommended contacting the highway commissioner for road district roads and the street department regarding municipal roads. Each jurisdiction can specify the dates for which a permit is valid based on the law designating Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 as the available permit season.

The harvest season permit would allow gross and axle weight overages for a divisible load and the vehicle’s weight to exceed its registered/license plate weight, Rund said.