Mega-load move from PNW to Canada takes mega planning
Published on JOC.com (https://www.joc.com)
Chris Barnett, Special Correspondent | Aug 31, 2018 5:01PM EDT
Specialized Freight Solutions of Lake Mills, Wisconsin, has been commissioned by the new High, Wide and Heavy Corridor Coalition to conduct a feasibility route study for moving up to 1,000-ton mega-loads from Pacific Northwest ports east into Idaho and Montana and up into Western Canada.
The founder and CEO of Specialized Freight Solutions of Lake Mills, Wisconsin, has been commissioned by the new High, Wide and Heavy Corridor Coalition to conduct a feasibility route study for moving up to 1,000-ton mega-loads from Pacific Northwest ports east into Idaho and Montana and up into Western Canada.
“These are transformers, natural gas turbines, oil and gas power generation components, and more recently wind equipment,” said Lynch. “I’d start with the landed dimensions of the biggest, widest, tallest, longest cargo, create a maximum envelope [size that could be transported], then find a route that clears for size and height and hope the states approve it for weight.”
Before Lynch hit the road, he traveled the route virtually, researching every state’s requirements and restrictions. “Then we physically look at every mile we cover, study every object the hauling vehicles may encounter, check out every fueling station, hotel, motel, and parking area on the route that can house the crews.”
Locating accommodations and parking is a critical part of a route survey, he said. Mega-loads typically move at 50 miles to 100 miles a day and, unlike long-haul tractor-trailers rigs, there is no sleeping compartment in the cab.
Moving a mega-load involves an ‘entourage’
Indeed, a mega-load is normally an “entourage” of vehicles and people, said Lynch. A pickup truck equipped with a height pole leads the way, followed by one or more four-axle prime movers carrying the out-of-gauge cargo and up to three more prime power units “pushing” the hauling vehicles up mountainous regions such as the Rockies or assisting with braking on the descent.
The entourage also includes escort vehicles, a tool truck that can perform repairs or change tires, and sometimes state troopers to assist with traffic.
Lynch’s two-week survey was a journey of exploring alternate routes. “We would love to run down interstates, but some bridges do not have on and off ramps for bypassing,” he said. “You don’t want to go down country roads, city streets or in residential neighborhoods, but sometimes we have to. More often than not you’re on a two-lane road, which can have fixed overheads — high voltage lines, trees, tunnels — plus bridges that need to be mitigated or avoided. It’s tedious, delicate, and you have to be creative.”
To bypass a low bridge in Idaho, for example, Lynch met with state officials and arranged a permit allowing a U-turn and “backtracking,” i.e., traveling the wrong way for up to a mile on an interstate.
“The permit involves having the state troopers shut down a section of the interstate so we could commandeer it,” he said. “Sure, it’s an inconvenience to some motorists, but states and local officials recognize the economic benefits we bring to these towns — food, hotels, fuel, even tree trimmers we may hire — when these mega-loads pass through.”
Contact Chris Barnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.