Route Restriction Procedures


Legal protection for commerce: Most truck ban requests arise from noise complaints. However, overland trucking is the primary means of moving goods in the United States. Commerce and trade have state and federal legal protection; therefore, restriction of commerce is difficult. It requires substantial supporting evidence such as accident data and a reasonable alternate route.

Legal Trucks

Height: Truck height is limited to 14 feet. For more information, see Height & Low Clearance.

Width: Truck width is iimited to 8.5 feet. For more information, see Vehicle Widths.

Length - Single Unit: The basic length limit for all single unit vehicles is 40 feet; however, length exceptions are given for buses and motorhomes up to 45 feet on certain routes (see 45' Buses and 45' Motorhomes).

Length - Combinations: Combination vehicles coupled together, such as a truck tractor and semitrailer, or a truck tractor, semitrailer and trailer, are limited to 65 feet, or 75 feet, or may be unlimited depending on the route. In addition, legal trucks in California must not exceed a kingpin-to-rear-axle (KPRA) length of 40 feet. See Quick Guide: Truck Lengths & Routes.

Weight: The maximum overall weight limit is 80,000 pounds. The CVC also specifies maximum axle weight limits as well. Generally, the maximum allowable weights are 20,000 pounds on single axles and 34,000 pounds on tandem axles equipped with the proper tire weight capacity ratings. For weight requirements, see Truck Weight.

Current State Route Restrictions

Current restrictions: There are approximately 20 State route segments with specific truck restrictions, including number of axles, gross weight, length, and cargo type (e.g. flammables, explosives, radioactive materials). See State route restrictions at Special Route Restrictions, which includes links to the histories of some restrictions.

Legal Basis

State authority: Streets & Highways Code (SHC) Section 124. The department may restrict the use of, or close, any State highway whenever the department considers such closing or restriction of use necessary: (a) For the protection of the public. (b) For the protection of such highway from damage during storms or during construction, improvement or maintenance operations thereon.

SHC 125. To notify the public that a state highway is closed or its use restricted, the department may: (a) Erect suitable barriers or obstructions upon such highway. (b) Post warnings and notices of the condition of any such highway. (c) Post signs for the direction of traffic upon it, or to or upon any other highway or detour open to public travel. (d) Place warning devices on such highway. (e) Assign a flagman to warn, detour or direct traffic on such highway.

CVC 21370. The Department of Transportation, ..., while engaged in the construction of a state highway ... may restrict the use of and regulate the movement of traffic upon any highway intersecting the project at or near the place of intersection whenever such work interferes with or endangers the safe movement of traffic through the work.

Legal basis for the restriction process: CVC Section 21101 allows the restriction of certain vehicles, by stating that, "Local authorities...may adopt rules and regulations by ordinance or resolution... (c) Prohibiting the use of particular highways by certain vehicles..." CVC Section 21104 further states " ordinance or resolution which is submitted to the Department of complete draft form for effective as to any state highway..."

Legal basis for the Department varying weight limits: Section 35650 states that the Department of Transportation may fix a weight limit greater than the maximum on State routes. Section 35651 states that the Department may fix a weight limit less than the maximum. Sections 35652 and 35653 describe the public hearing required. Section 35654 requires signs posted. Section 35655 describes fines for violations. Section 35655.5 declares the 4.5-ton limit on Interstate 580 (see chart above).

Legal basis for local authorities varying weight limits or restricting vehicles: Section 35700 states that local authorities may fix a weight limit greater than the maximum on local roads. Section 35700.5 discusses weight limits for international containers greater than the maximum allowed, by permit, on portions of Routes 1, 47 and 103 in the cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The following CVC sections also cover local authorities:

  • Section 35701 allows restriction of vehicles by stating that, "(a) Any city, or county for a residence district, may, by ordinance, prohibit the use of a street by any commercial vehicle or by any vehicle exceeding a maximum gross weight limit...(b) The ordinance shall not be effective until...signs are erected...(c) No ordinance...shall apply to any state the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, except (that) approved by a two-thirds vote of the California Transportation Commission." Section 35702 requires Caltrans approval, and the designation of an alternate route, by stating that, "No ordinance proposed under Section 35701 is effective with respect to any...state highway, until the ordinance has been submitted by the...local authority to, and approved in writing by, the Department of Transportation. ...the local authority shall alternate route..." Section 35703 allows deliveries and pickups: "No ordinance adopted pursuant to Section 35701 shall prohibit any commercial vehicles coming from an unrestricted direct route to and from a restricted street...for the purpose of making pickups or deliveries..."

  • Section 35712 allows a county to "...prohibit the use of any highway located in an unincorporated residential or subdivision area by any commercial vehicle exceeding a gross weight of 14,000 pounds. (b) Any county of the third class ... may ... prohibit the use of any highway ... by any commercial vehicle exceeding a gross weight of 5,000 pounds. " Section 35714 requires Caltrans approval for restricting State routes per CVC 35712: "No ordinance adopted pursuant to Section 35712 shall be effective with respect to: ... (c) Any commercial vehicle ... for the purpose of making pickups or deliveries (f) Any state highway, until the proposed ordinance has been submitted ... and approved in writing by the Department of Transportation.

  • Sections 35704 - 35721 discuss topics such as exemptions for public utilities, tax funds, hearings, delivery routes, residential areas, signs, other exempted vehicles, and defective roadways.

  • Section 35722 covers the 9,000 pound weight limit on Route 85 (see Special Route Restrictions).

Legal basis for restricting KPRA to 38 feet: Caltrans and/or local governments may restrict the kingpin-to-rear-axle (KPRA) distance on a truck tractor-semitrailer on those routes under their jurisdiction, but may not restrict KPRA to less than 38 feet. For local route KPRA restrictions, see CVC Section 35401(e). For State route KPRA restrictions, see CVC Section 35401(f). The State route KPRA restriction requires a public hearing that complies with CVC Chapter 5, Article 3, commencing with Section 35650.

Legal basis for restrictions on crossings: Section 23334 authorizes Caltrans to restrict traffic on vehicular crossings by stating, "The Department of Transportation may adopt rules and regulations...for the control of traffic on any vehicular crossing to aid and insure the safe and orderly flow of traffic, and shall, so far as practicable, notify the public of the rules and regulations by signs on the vehicular crossing." Section 23330 states that "Except where a special permit has been obtained...none of the following shall be permitted on any vehicular crossing:...(d) Vehicles carrying items prohibited by regulations promulgated by the Department of Transportation.

Crossings in the CVC: The Caldecott Tunnel, which connects Oakland with Contra Costa County; is restricted by CVC Section 31301, which states that, "(a) No person shall transport any explosive substance, flammable liquid, liquefied petroleum gas or poisonous gas in a tank truck, trailer, or semitrailer through the Caldecott Tunnel...Route any time other than between the hours of 3 a.m. to 5 a.m.

"Vehicular crossing": Section 23254 defines "vehicular crossing" as "any toll bridge or toll highway crossing and the approaches thereto, constructed or acquired by the Department of Transportation under the provisions of the California Toll Bridge Authority Act."

Other restrictions in the CVC: Route 85. Section 35722 states that, "...the County of Santa Clara may, after a public hearing, adopt a proposed ordinance imposing a maximum gross truck weight limit of 9,000 pounds on Route 85...and submit the proposed ordinance to the Department of Transportation for approval. If the proposed ordinance is approved...the Department shall post appropriate signs..."

On-Line CVC: CVC Online.


Federal law: The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 23, Section 658.11 covers requirements for additions, deletions, and restrictions on the National Network.

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA): Requests for restrictions on the National Network must be submitted in writing to the appropriate FHWA Division Office.

CFR -- Federal approval: The Section 658.11(d) states: "Deletions and use restrictions--Federal-aid interstate. (1) The deletion of, or imposition of use restrictions on, any specific segment of the Interstate Highway System on the National Network, except as otherwise provided in this part, must be approved by the FHWA. Such action will be initiated ... on the request of the Governor or the Governor's authorized representative of the State in which the Interstate segment is located. Requests from the Governor or the Governor's authorized representative shall be submitted along with justification for the deletion or restriction, in writing, to the appropriate FHWA Division Office for transmittal to Washington Headquarters."

CFR -- Justification: The Section 658.11(d)(2) states: "The justification accompanying a request shall be based on the following: (i) Analysis of evidence of safety problems supporting the deletion or restriction as identified in Sec. 658.11(c). (ii) Analysis of the impact on interstate commerce. (iii) Analysis and recommendation of any alternative routes that can safely accommodate commercial motor vehicles of the dimensions and configurations described in Sec. Sec. 658.13 and 658.15 and serve the area in which such segment is located. (iv) Evidence of consultation with the local governments in which the segment is located as well as the Governor or the Governor's authorized representative of any adjacent State that might be directly affected by such a deletion or restriction."

National Network routes: To determine whether the route is National Network, open the Truck Route List (XLSX) , find the route number and route segment, and look for the NN in the Column titled "Desig" (for "Designation").

Peak-Hour Truck Restrictions

Peak-hour truck restrictions: California does not currently have any truck restrictions during certain hours. State and federal law forbids highway restrictions to truck access except for "safety and engineering" reasons. There is no mention in the law of time limitations. However, a peak-hour truck restriction would hinder trucks from making deliveries and would probably, therefore, be considered a restriction under the law. In order to enact a time restriction, it would seem necessary to validate a safety issue by traffic study.

Studies of peak-hour restrictions: The California Legislature commissioned the "Urban Freeway Gridlock Study," dated 1988, to investigate the impact of large trucks on peak-period freeway congestion, and explore management techniques to reduce congestion. The study focused on freeways in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego metropolitan areas. The study's conclusions were that a peak-period truck ban would not provide significant relief from peak-period congestion, and that a peak-period ban is unlikely due to prvisions of the federal Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 (STAA) and subsequent court decisions.

Truck Restriction Process

The following suggested procedures are in accordance with the following CVC Sections: 21101(c) to prohibit "certain vehicles" on local routes and 21104 to prohibit "certain vehicles" on State routes; 35701to prohibit vehicles by weight on local routes, and 35702 to prohibit vehicles by weight on State routes. (These steps below do not apply to KPRA restrictions, which must follow the guidance in the CVC sections linked above under the subtitle: "Legal basis for restricting KPRA to 38 feet.")

  1. Local Agency Prepares a Draft Truck Restriction Ordinance or Resolution. The local agency prepares a draft ordinance or resolution of the proposed truck restriction and informs the appropriate Caltrans District Truck Staff. The ordinance or resolution must cite the CVC Section providing the justification for the truck restriction. Caltrans districts should notify the Headquarters Office of Commercial Vehicle Operations (see Caltrans Contacts at end of these guidelines) in writing as soon as possible after learning of a truck restriction proposal. Districts should request and forward copies of local agencies' draft ordinances or resolutions to Headquarters Office of Commercial Vehicle Operations (CVO), Legal and Environmental Programs for review.
  2. Local Agency Prepares Initial Study. The initial study provides the information necessary to justify the proposed restriction, and may also indicate if the proposed restriction is subject to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review. The initial study allows the preliminary submittal of information by Caltrans, local agencies, and California Highway Patrol staff, as well as initial comments from the trucking industry, affected industries, and citizen groups. It should include the proposed restriction type, location, existing conditions, alternatives, maintenance and safety considerations on the alternative route(s), any initial public comment, and conditions that may involve further CEQA compliance.
  3. Local Agency Provides Public Review and Comment Period. During the public review period, the local agency gives public notice of the proposed truck restriction, and public hearings can be advertised and held. All documentation acquired to date regarding the proposed truck restriction should be available for public review prior to the public hearing.
  4. Local Agency Receives Comments and Prepares Final Truck Restriction Report. The local agency considers all comments received. If the local agency still wants to proceed with the proposed restriction, a final truck restriction report is prepared and forwarded to the Caltrans district office. This final report includes any comment revisions, and the draft restriction ordinance or resolution. The Caltrans District Director forwards the report with the District's recommendations to the Caltrans Traffic Operations Division Chief at Headquarters. (See the checklist for the contents of the truck restriction report, following these guidelines.)
  5. Caltrans Traffic Operations Submits Recommendation to the Director's Office. The Traffic Operations, Office of CVO, in cooperation with Caltrans Headquarters Environmental and Legal Divisions, prepares a recommendation regarding the truck restriction and submits it to the Caltrans Director's Office.
  6. Caltrans Director Issues Written Approval. If approved, the Caltrans Director issues a written approval of the draft ordinance of resolution for the truck restriction.
  7. Local Agency Passes Final Truck Restriction Ordinance or Resolution.
  8. Local Agency Erects Restriction Signs, and Restriction is Enforced.

Truck Restriction Report Checklist

Approval of restriction requests is contingent upon a complete identification and documentation of impacts on highway safety, structural integrity, environment and operational efficiency. Some items may not apply. This checklist is a guide only.


_____ The document cover clearly states the Caltrans District, County, Route and postmile limits of the proposal. Any proposed local ordinance or resolution number should also be placed on the cover.


_____ The proposed restriction and references to specific codes, regulations and any local ordinances or resolutions are clearly presented in the proposal statement. If exemptions to general rules apply; cite appropriate statutory law or regulations.


Justification depends on rationale: safety, hazardous materials, bridge weight limit, construction zones, seasonal operation, etc.

_____ Analyses of present and future safety, operational (capacity, geometrics) and/or structural adequacy supporting the restriction. A description of existing versus proposed conditions. Include supporting data tables, maps and/or photographs.

_____ List of alternatives considered, e.g. truck advisory, restriction of 39-foot vehicles, or restriction of all trucks over a certain gross weight. Statement of the proposed restriction selected.

_____ Analysis of environmental considerations for the restriction proposal with an explanation of impacts and mitigation measures.

_____ Existing and future land use plans.

_____ Analysis of the impact on interstate and intrastate commerce. Analysis of the economic impact on communities, shippers and trucking companies due to increased travel distances.

_____ Analysis and recommendations of any alternative routes that can safely accommodate any California legal commercial motor vehicles and serve the proposed restriction area.

_____ Evidence of consultation with the local or adjoining state governments affected by the proposed restriction.

_____ Results of any public hearings.


_____ Copies of any draft local restriction ordinances or resolutions.

_____ Copies of any supportive correspondence or documents for the restriction.

_____ Minutes of public hearings (audio or videocassette tape).