FRIDAY 1/21/2022 3:30 p.m.

(WFRV) – Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) has declared all highways are officially frozen statewide and the frozen road law will expand to include the entire state.

This change will be effective starting Saturday, Jan. 22, at 12:01 a.m.

Original Story: Frozen road law expanded, including more N.E. Wisconsin counties

THURSDAY 1/6/2022 6:28 p.m.

(WFRV) – Select counties in Northeast Wisconsin are under frozen road law as of Thursday, Jan. 6 – joining other counties in the northern part of the state. But what does this mean? And what do liquid-filled tubes under the pavement have anything to do with it?

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), the frozen road law was in effect for some counties already, referred to as Zone 1. Traffic officials are naming the category of newly added counties Zone 2.

The expanded law (that impacts Zone 2) went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on the morning of Jan. 6, 2022.

In the past, staff says the law is usually in effect from mid-December to late February or early March of the following year. It lasts as long as the weather allows.

What is the frozen road law?

The law ultimately offers a temporary change in weight limitations on streets for otherwise restricted vehicles due to the cold weather.

On WisDOT’s website, it says the law allows legally licensed vehicles that haul salt and sand for winter highway maintenance or heavy forest products, like crosswise cut lumber, to not have a special permit. The law does not include woodchips.

In addition, they clarify that to be legally licensed the vehicle has to be currently registered for 80,000 pounds. If it is less than 80k, it should be the maximum Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW).

To check and see if a permit is required, you can go to the WisDOT website through this link.

What does the law have to do with weather?

Did you know there are ‘frost tubes’ under the pavement?

These liquid-filled tubes help WisDOT staff and county personnel monitor temperature forecasts to decide if roads are frozen enough to handle these heavier loads.

The video below explains more about frost tubes and how WisDOT monitors field conditions to verify frost depths.

What counties are under Zone 2?

Zone 2, the one WisDOT expanded to start Thursday, is comprised of the following counties:

  • Marinette
  • Menominee
  • Oconto
  • Langlade
  • Lincoln
  • Marathon
  • Florence
  • Forest
  • Oneida
  • Portion of northern Portage
  • Portion of northern Shawano
  • Portion of Waupaca

An up-to-date map from WisDOT’s website can be viewed below –

Zones 3 through 5

WisDOT officials say the Frozen Road Period will begin in Zones 3 through 5 when conditions call for it. Zone 3 includes the following counties: Door, Kewaunee, Outagamie, Brown, Manitowoc, Calumet, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Winnebago, Waushara, Marquette.

If you are wondering what the current status of the frozen road declaration is, you can call (608) 266-8417 for a recorded message.

Questions related to frozen road conditions on local/county roads should be sent to the authorities that maintain the road that is under consideration.