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Barnhart set out to haul a new heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) from Tulsa, OK to Los Angeles, CA, marking an incredible 2,343-mile trek. The HRSG was purchased by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for the Hyperion Waste Water Treatment Plant. The massive machine was part of a digester upgrade project that would allow the plant to produce power from methane gas created in the anaerobic digesting process, according to Chris Howe, project manager for Barnhart. The HRSG was roughly 43-feet long, 16-feet wide, 16-feet tall and weighed 225,000 pounds.

“With Oklahoma’s deteriorating infrastructure, Barnhart knew that keeping the axle loadings beneath the 40,000 pounds dual-lane axle limit would be essential to getting the piece moving as soon as possible,” said Howe. “In addition, the center of gravity was not centered longitudinally, and it was offset by 3.5 feet, so getting the axle lines loaded evenly would prove to be tricky.”

Barnhart designed a trailer configuration that utilized two Goldhofer six-line California-style dual-lane trailers, with seven-foot dollies and nine-foot one-inch axle spacings at 20-feet wide. With this configuration, axle loadings were kept under 38,000 pounds per line, which allowed Barnhart to get the load permitted and moving for the client as soon as possible, Howe said. The permitted dimensions of the trailer configuration were 260 feet long, 21-feet wide and 17-feet 11-inches tall with axle loadings of 38,000 pounds per line. 

However, finding a route to accommodate the height of the piece would be crucial to minimizing utility support. Since the HRSG was already over 16-feet tall, Barnhart used its girder system to suspend the load to minimize the travel height. The suspension girder system was designed and fabricated by Barnhart. It featured an additional 18-foot insert section that would allow 54 feet in the well of the trailer.

Regulations aplenty

The load had to be permitted with six different states: Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The load had to be weighed often to verify axle weights, and Barnhart had to obtain 21 local and county permits and get approval from 18 different local, county and district DOT supervisors. The planned route also involved having to hire third-party bridge engineering in order to receive the route approvals. The planning and permitting for this haul took over 240 man hours to get everything in place and get the load rolling, in addition to 1,100 man hours of police and utility support.

The safety plan included having a start-of-shift safety meeting where the crew and the support team would meet to review the day’s operations, the permits and the applicable restrictions, the day’s route, any utility concerns, daily equipment and load inspections and review a job hazard analysis prior to moving that day. The crew and support team also maintained constant open lines of communication by having dedicated radios for everyone to use on the haul.

Another challenge Barnhart encountered was coordinating driver hours, permit curfews and parking spots.

“Understandably, with a 260-foot-long trailer, parking can be tough to find,” said Howe. “It was necessary to review permits, route and driver hours daily to schedule work. Having predetermined stopping points and parking spots for each day’s operation at the start of the shift helped the crew stay within their hours of service, permit restrictions and not get caught out on the road looking for the next good parking area, which could be 100 miles away.”

To ensure the super load’s safe movement, bucket trucks and police escorts assisted the convoy. The project took approximately 11 weeks from start to finish, including seven weeks for permitting, trailer mobilization and loading and three weeks for the crew to travel the 2,343 miles from Tulsa to LA. The Barnhart team worked over 2,000 man hours without a safety incident or any citations.

 “This kind of magnificent move really goes to show how the right equipment and good people can make a daunting job look easy,” said Howe.


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