(a) Any vehicle, when transporting coal over certain public highways, designated as coal resource transportation roads by the commissioner of the department of highways, may be operated at the weights as set forth in this section in excess of the maximum gross weight prescribed in section nine, article seventeen of this chapter and any other maximum weight limitations on any public highway by paying the corresponding special permit fee and otherwise complying with the provisions of this article.
(b) Special permits shall be issued subject to the following requirements:
(1) A single unit truck having one steering axle and two axles in tandem shall be limited to a maximum gross weight of eighty thousand pounds with a tolerance of five percent and pay a special permit fee annually of $100;
(2) A single unit truck having one steering axle and three axles in tridem arrangement shall be limited to a maximum gross weight of ninety thousand pounds with a tolerance of five percent and pay a special permit fee annually of one hundred $60;
(3) A tractor-semitrailer combination with five axles shall be limited to a maximum gross weight of one hundred ten thousand pounds with a tolerance of five percent and pay a special permit fee annually of $300;
(4) A tractor-semitrailer combination with six or more axles shall be limited to a maximum gross weight of one hundred twenty thousand pounds with a tolerance of five percent and pay a special permit fee annually of $500.
(c) The axle loads set forth in subsection (b) of this section may in no event exceed the maximum axle load allowable based upon the minimum axle spacings as determined by the Division of Highways in accordance with generally accepted industry standards and bridge loading analysis.
(d) In order to qualify for issuance of a special permit, the applicant shall provide information that demonstrates that the vehicle, as configured, has a total combined axle rating capacity equal to or greater than the maximum amount of weight for which a special permit is sought. The information may include, but not be limited to, the manufacturer's rated capacity. In the event that manufacturer's rated capacity is not available, any other information reasonably determined by the secretary of the Department of Transportation to give evidence of adequate combined axle rating capacity may be submitted.
(e) Special permits authorized by this section shall be issued by the commission on forms prescribed and furnished by it. The special permit indicium shall be permanently affixed immediately below the window glass on the top of the door on the driver's side of the vehicle. Lost, destroyed, stolen or otherwise unusable special permits indicia shall be replaced in accordance with legislative rules to be promulgated by the commission. The special permit indicium shall be issued to a particular vehicle and shall remain with the vehicle upon transfer of possession or ownership of the vehicle.
(f) Special permits issued pursuant to the provisions of this article are valid for a period of one year from the date of purchase: Provided, That no renewal permits shall be issued to any permittee who, at the time of the renewal, has any administrative or criminal actions pending relating to the operation of commercial motor vehicles in this or other states.
(g) For purposes of this section, the dimensional requirements of motor vehicles shall conform to all applicable federal laws and regulations. Nothing in this section may be construed or administered to jeopardize the receipt of federal funds for highway purposes.
(h) Any operator of a vehicle with a special permit issued under the provisions of this article shall submit the vehicle or combination of vehicles to weighing with portable or stationary weighing devices as required by section ten, article seventeen of this chapter. Any driver or owner of a vehicle or combination of vehicles operating under the provisions of this section who fails or refuses to comply with any requirement of section ten, article seventeen of this chapter forfeits all privileges granted by the special permits.
(i) Any vehicle or combination of vehicles transporting coal pursuant to the provisions of this article shall be securely covered to prevent the escape of the load on any trip exceeding a total distance of one mile on any public highway.
(j) As a condition of receipt of a special permit, vehicle owners and operators shall submit permitted vehicles to safety checks and other vehicle inspection requirements as required by legislative rules of the commission. The commission may impose additional vehicle operation and maintenance requirements by rule as the commission deems appropriate to assure the safe operation of vehicles issued a special permit.
(k) The commission shall propose rules in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code regarding the implementation of the requirements of this section. The rules shall be initially promulgated as emergency rules pursuant to the provisions of said article by no later than October 1, 2003.
(l) The payment of the special permit fee is in addition to any state registration fee, user fee or other decal fee.
(m) All revenues generated pursuant to this section shall be credited to a special account within the road fund which is created and shall be designated as the "coal resource transportation road fund". Moneys of the fund shall be used by the Division of Highways for construction, maintenance and repair of public highways and bridges over which substantial quantities of coal are transported.
(n) For periods of less than one year, the permit fee imposed by subsection (b) of this section shall be prorated to the nearest month.