Moving heavy components a short distance can be a challenge. When you add a long and arduous route to the project, things get even more complicated. Planning and experience are the keys to long super load hauls.
In May 2012, Aurora, OH-based Specialized Inc. was contacted by Weir American Hydro in York, PA to look into the transportation of two turbine runners from their facility in York to Boundary Dam in Metaline Falls, WA. The turbine installation was the culmination of a $60 million dollar investment by Seattle City & Light to refurbish the dam’s power generation capabilities.
“This move represented many challenges from a transportation standpoint, most notably that the runners were 19 feet wide and weighed 183,000 pounds,” says Specialized Inc.’s Project Manager Eric Lloyd. “The shipping schedule proposed moving them at the height of construction season.”
Specialized’s team met with the Weir American Hydro team and conducted a site visit in Metaline Falls. Permit applications were made with the state of Washington to determine requirements for the loading capacity of the trailer.
“It was determined that we would need to use our special 20-axle trailer to accommodate the permit requirements of each state of travel including Washington,” says Lloyd. “Our 20-axle trailer is a very unique piece of equipment as it has a 600 hp Caterpillar engine mounted on the last axle of the trailer providing both the ability to carry weight on that axle while also eliminating the need of a ‘push truck’ as required in some mountainous states of travel. We are one of a very small group of carriers in the nation that possess this piece of equipment in our fleet.”
The first of the two runners was scheduled to move in August 2012. Due to the amount of construction across the states of travel, permits for multiple routes across multiple states were applied for and approved.
“Every option was entertained including utilizing the S.S. Badger to ferry the load across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin,” says Lloyd.
Final routing for the first runner was not determined until one week before the move was scheduled to start. Final routing for the first move had the turbine runner traveling through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington.
“Due to restrictions in Pennsylvania, the route we had to traverse with the first runner took three days to navigate and the use of four state police escorts,” says Lloyd. “Ohio required an ODOT escort and state police escorts due to the vast number of bridges we had to cross at crawl speeds under 5 mph. Indiana required a state bridge engineer to accompany the load during a portion of the route along with multiple state police escorts.”
In Illinois, where the super load permit process can take up to 14 days, construction projects began on the route the day before they were scheduled to move. The permit process had to be started over to obtain approval for routing around the construction.
“We were able to work with the district project engineers in Illinois to reduce the permit processing time from 14 days to three days,” Lloyd says. “Similar issues were encountered in each state including multiple state police escorts in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Washington. The final leg of the journey from the Idaho line to Boundary Dam had to be completed at night with the assistance of two state police escorts and six private pilot cars.”
Boundary Dam is located in a remote area of Washington and roads are used mainly for camping and logging operations. Cell phone reception was spotty, and it was determined that a night move would reduce the impact the load would have on campers and loggers.
“Specialized had 38 days in the first move from the time we left our yard to go load in York until we returned to our yard empty at the completion of the move,” Lloyd says. “In all, we travelled both loaded and empty through 13 states and had approvals to travel through 17 states.”
Transporting the second turbine runner in May 2013 presented even more unique challenges, especially since the construction season was in full swing.
“The permit process commenced in January 2012 when calls were made to preliminary states of travel to discuss possible routing options,” says Lloyd. “By April 1st, formal applications were made to the states of travel. Two possible routes were discussed and based on construction, it was determined that routing via Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, back into Idaho, and finally Washington would be the most accommodating route.”
They also obtained approvals from Indiana and Ohio in the event construction in Kentucky caused issues.
Lloyd complemented the cooperation of state DOT commissioners, state DOT directors, district engineers, construction project managers and state permit offices for both hauls.
“All in all, Specialized had a total of 26 days in the second move through 12 states,” says Lloyd. “Between both loads, we had over 13,384 permitted miles. From a super load project management standpoint, this is the most satisfying move I have made in my career.”