Montana Department Of Transportation Issues New Load Postings For 4 Bridges In McCone & Dawson Counties

Circle, MT - The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) recently issued new load postings for the Cottonwood Creek Bridge, on MT 200, 8 miles northeast of Circle, in McCone County; the Bluff Creek Bridge, on MT 200, 14 miles southwest of Richey, in Dawson County; the Skull Creek Bridge, on MT 200, 18 miles west of Brockway, in McCone County; and the Horse Creek Bridge on Horse Creek Road, 1 mile west of Circle, in McCone County. The postings are part of a multi-year effort to update load ratings and postings on Montana bridges as mandated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The FHWA mandate is in response to changes in the trucking industry over the last decade. Truck manufacturers are building specialized hauling vehicles (SHVs) capable of legally carrying heavier loads than typical vehicles have in the past. SHVs are single-unit, short-wheelbase, multiple-axle trucks commonly used in the construction, waste management, bulk cargo, and commodities hauling industries. Often one or more axles can be raised or lowered as needed to comply with statutory weight limitations.

These SHV configurations concentrate heavy loads over a short length, and they have been found to overstress bridges beyond what was previously modeled by standard commercial vehicles. To account for their increasing presence and ensure safe operation, FHWA has determined that all states must include these new, short, heavy vehicles when evaluating the safe limits of bridge capacity.

MDT is currently updating load ratings for 4,500 public bridges across the state, including approximately 2,500 owned and maintained by MDT to comply with the mandate. This effort is expected to take about four years to complete.

Bridge weight restrictions are required when the engineering analysis of a bridge, known as a load rating, indicates that it cannot carry standard, legal loads. Load ratings provide information about how much distributed weight can safely pass over a bridge. Load posting signs show maximum weight limits for different vehicle types, depending on their axle configuration. A posted bridge is safe to use, but the weight of certain vehicles must be limited accordingly.

The new postings on these 4 bridges apply to SHVs; they limit the maximum gross vehicle weight of single-unit vehicles with:

• Cottonwood Creek Bridge: 6 or 7 axles to 31 tons

• Bluff Creek Bridge: 5, 6, or 7 axles to 27 tons

• Skull Creek Bridge: 4, 5, 6, or 7 axles to 25 tons

• Horse Creek Bridge: 6 or 7 axles to 31 tons

Further information on understanding and interpreting Montana’s weight limit signs and silhouettes can be found in MDT’s load posting brochure, located here:

The exact locations of the four bridges are viewable on Google Maps:

To assist with public outreach and education about the bridge load posting program, MDT has created an interactive map with statewide load posted bridge locations available at:

For the most up-to-date information and additional resources, visit MDT’s Bridge Load Posting Program website at

For questions about the program or specific bridges, please call the project hotline at 1-888-824-8445 or email [email protected].

Alternative accessible formats of this document will be provided on request. Persons who need an alternative format should contact the Office of Civil Rights, Department of Transportation, 2701 Prospect Avenue, PO Box 201001, Helena, MT 59620. Telephone 406-444-5416 or Montana Relay Service at 711.


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