According to federal law, routine commercial vehicles must adhere to certain limits on their load configuration in order to operate legally on interstate highways. However, states may allow for heavier or different load configurations provided that bridges on the state and county highway system are load rated and, if necessary, posted with vehicles that appropriately represent these loads. The state of Indiana allows several classes of vehicles to operate with loads that exceed federal limits, and, presently, several LFD design loads are used to represent these exceptions as state legal loads. This study evaluates the MBE rating loads for their ability to encompass Indiana’s exception vehicles and recommends a set of state rating loads which can replace the current state legal loads and, combined with the MBE rating loads, satisfactorily encompass the load effects due to these exceptions. Comparing moment and shear envelopes on a representative set of bridges, the MBE rating vehicles were found to be insufficient for representing Indiana’s exception vehicles. Three new rating loads are proposed which encompass the exception vehicles efficiently and represent realistic legal loads. Conversely, acceptable HS-20 rating factors are also provided as an alternative to the adoption of these new vehicles. These rating factors, all 1.0 or greater, can ensure a similar level of safety by requiring a specific amount of excess capacity for the HS-20 design load.

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state legal loads, bridge load rating, influence lines, truck axle configurations

SPR Number


Performing Organization

Joint Transportation Research Program

Publisher Place

West Lafayette, IN

Date of this Version