In May 2013, a commercial motor vehicle crossing the Skagit River Bridge along Interstate 5 (I-5) collided with the structure, causing a partial collapse. The subsequent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation and U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study identified safety issues and recommended the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) take certain actions. FHWA, through the “Pilot Escort Vehicle Training Materials and State Certification Harmonization” project, addressed the key NTSB recommendations for action listed below. The GAO report contained a key recommendation for Executive Action:

“To improve stewardship over the nation’s highways and bridges, we recommend that the Secretary of Transportation direct the FHWA Administrator to take the following action:

Conduct a study on State oversize – and overweight-permitting practices, including automated vehicle routing and escort driver certification, to identify areas of best practice and share the results with States.”

This report, summarizing the FHWA-sponsored Oversize-Overweight (OS/OW) Permitting Best Practices Research Project, is intended to respond to the GAO recommendation. The objective was to conduct a study of State OS/OW permitting practices to identify best practices, including the identification of best practices for automated permitting systems and pilot escort certification.

The OS/OW Permitting Best Practices Research Project includes a comprehensive environmental scan of all information available on current permitting practices with an emphasis on conducting research into automated permitting services and on pilot escort vehicle State certification programs.