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Seasonal weight restrictions on regional and township roads in North Durham

COURTNEY McCLURE, for The Standard

NORTH DURHAM: As the weather grows warmer and the snow starts to melt, roads will need frequent repairing. During spring, roads that were once frozen begin to thaw. The water might not drain onto the gravel under the pavement. But why is that?

According to the Durham Region website, it’s because the soil surrounding the roads might still be frozen or too solid. So, the water soaks into the gravel underneath.

When the gravel absorbs water, the pavement loses its strength for a short while. The pavement can’t support the vehicles driving on top of it, especially if the vehicle carries over five tonnes per axle or over 5 thousand kilograms of weight.

This is why a weight restriction for large trucks has been implemented onto roads in North Durham.

According to the Director of Public Works of the Township of Uxbridge, Ben Kester, there is usually three to four feet of frozen ground beneath the roads in North Durham. As the frozen ground melts, it soaks the subgrade laying beneath the stretch of road. This makes the subgrade very soft and structurally unstable.

“If large, loaded trucks use the road, then the trucks… will rut the road and break the asphalt,” explained Mr. Kester. The trucks will also make ruts in gravel roads, if they continuously drive across them.

These weight restrictions were put in place because they reduce the possibility of the trucks damaging the roads in North Durham. “If we can keep heavy trucks off the roads when they are soft and prone to damage, we can make our roads last longer and save money,” shared Colleen Baskin, the Communications Officer at the Township of Uxbridge.

You can expect to see signs on all Regional roads where the heavy truck weight restrictions apply. The weight restriction limit is determined by the Durham Regional Police Service and the Ministry of Transportation for Ontario. Both of these facilities monitor vehicles in the area so they can safely enforce allowed weigh restrictions.

Most public emergency and utility vehicles are exempt from these restrictions. Other vehicles may be exempt from these restrictions if a request is sent to the Region of Durham. The request must be handwritten. You will also have to tell the Region your route and the reason for exemption. These vehicles include liquid and gas heating fuel trucks, livestock feed and poultry and milk. And vehicles operating on behalf of a municipality can request an exemption.

There are also a few roads that are exempt from weight restrictions. The list is available on the Durham Region website. You can visit their website at

These restrictions are in place until around May 1st as weather conditions are continuously warming. When warmer weather comes, trucks will be able to carry more weight.

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