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Background Information


All cargo shipments moving overland within North America are governed by weight restriction laws established by both federal and local government agencies. The consequences of exceeding the legal limit are fines, liability claims, equipment damage and/or extra costs such as transloading.
Safe Container Act
 Beginning April 9, 1997 all containers moving by truck over US highways exceeding 29,000 lbs. of gross cargo weight must be certified. Certification must be passed to the carrier prior to tender of the load for intermodal transport. The certificate must include the following items:
  • Certifying party
  • Date of certification
  • Commodity
  • Container number
  • Gross cargo weight including pallets and dunnage
Failure to comply with federal law can result in the delay of the shipment. The law now gives the trucker, if fined for an overweight violation due to incorrect or missing information from the issuing party of the container, the right to lien the load to collect the amount of the fine. The liable party is the party that provides false or erroneous certification information, violates state highway weight law or fails to pass on certification information.

Maximum Payload (USA & Canada)

To prevent the stressing of Federal Highway Bridges, the Federal Bridge Formula uses the spacing of axles on vehicles to help identify the maximum allowable gross vehicle weight. Various factors such as type of cargo, distribution of cargo within the container and different types of equipment (e.g. steel vs. aluminum containers, flush vs. slider chassis, tractor weight/type, gensets for reefer) will affect the determination of an absolute maximum cargo payload.
Due to the variety of variables that factor into the bridge formula calculation, we offer the following recommended guideline for the average maximum container payload weights.
NOTE: Strict adherence to reefer weights. Limit of tare weight shown on container may never be exceeded.
In the U.S.
  • 39,500 lbs. (17.92MT) per 20-foot container
  • 44,500 lbs. (20.19MT) per 40-foot container
  • 41,500 lbs. (18.82MT) per 45-foot container
  • 36,500 lbs. (16.56MT) per 20-foot reefer container
  • 41,500 lbs. (18.82MT) per 40-foot reefer container
In Canada
  • 40,000 lbs. (18.14MT) per 20-foot container
  • 44,500 lbs. (20.19MT) per 40-foot container
  • 37,000 lbs. (16.78MT) per 20-foot reefer container
  • 41,500 lbs. (18.82MT) per 40-foot reefer container
Weight Limitations by State/Province
Special equipment is available in some North American locations for overweight containers to be handled legally.
  • Some states have higher weight limitations with permits. See grid below:
  • Additional weight permits are for 40s only where available.
  • All states are 80,000 G.V.W. except those where Permits are available up to a specified weight limit. Note - G.V.W. means Gross Vehicle Weight and is the weight of the container, cargo and tractor.
  • Any Permit requests are required to be submitted through the Exception Handling Process and an SSR secured for additional costs and special handling.
  
State/Province
G.V.W. *
G.V.W. w/ Permit
Single Axle
Tandem Axle
Alabama
80,000
100,000
20,000
34,000
Alaska
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Alberta
86,000
n/a
56,000
86,000
Arizona
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Arkansas
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
British Columbia
86,000
n/a
56,000
86,000
California **
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Colorado
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Connecticut
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Delaware
80,000
90,000
22,000
34,000
Florida
80,000
95,000
20,000
34,000
Georgia
80,000
100,000
20,000
34,000
Idaho
80,000
105,000
20,000
34,000
Illinois
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Indiana
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Iowa
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Kansas
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Kentucky
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Louisiana
***50 mile radius of port
80,000
95,000
n/a
40,000
Maine
80,000
99,000
20,000
34,000
Manitoba
82,700
n/a
20,000
35,000
Maryland
80,000
90,000
22,000
40,000
Massachusetts
80,000
99,000
20,000
34,000
Michigan
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Minnesota
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Mississippi
80,000
95,000
20,000
34,000
Missouri
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Montana
80,000
105,000
20,000
34,000
Nebraska
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Nevada
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
New Brunswick
97,000
n/a
19,900
39,700
Newfoundland
97,000
n/a
19,900
39,700
New Hampshire
80,000
99,000
20,000
34,000
New Jersey
80,000
90,000
20,000
34,000
New Mexico
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
New York
80,000
88,000
20,000
34,000
North Carolina
80,000
94,000
94,500
34,000
North Dakota
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Nova Scotia
97,000
n/a
19,900
39,700
Ohio
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Oklahoma
80,000
95,000
20,000
40,000
Ontario
97,000
n/a
19,900
39,700
Oregon
80,000
105,000
22,400
36,000
Pennsylvania
80,000
90,000
20,000
34,000
Prince Edward Island
97,000
n/a
20,000
40,000
Quebec
90,961
n/a
39,682
46,296
Rhode Island
80,000
99,000
20,000
34,000
Saskatoon
86,000
n/a
56,000
86,000
South Carolina
80,000
90,000
20,000
34,000
South Dakota
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Tennessee
80,000
90,000
20,000
34,000
Texas
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Utah
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Vermont
80,000
99,000
20,000
34,000
Virginia
80,000
90,000
20,000
34,000
Washington
80,000
105,500
20,000
34,000
West Virginia
80,000
88,000
20,000
34,000
Wisconsin
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
Wyoming
80,000
n/a
20,000
34,000
* Gross Vehicle Weight in lbs.
** see the chart for Long Beach/Los Angeles Maximum Weight
*** Within 450 miles radius of the ports you can run heavier but outside the 50 mile radius, GVW is 80,000.

Customer Advisory: Export Intermodal cargo moving over Los Angeles/Long Beach Gateway
In order to ensure over the road safety on STEAMSHIP LINE export containers, rail billing requests received that exceed the following cargo weight limitations will be subject to rejection:
a) 20' (general purpose) in excess of 44,000 cargo weight lbs.
b) 20' (reefer) in excess of 41,500 cargo weight lbs
c) 40' (general purpose) in excess of 44,500 cargo weight lbs
d) 40' (reefer) in excess of 41,500 cargo weight lbs
e) 45' in excess of 41,500 cargo weight lbs.
 
 
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