‘Su­per­load’ trav­els 56 miles in two days, ar­rives early

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - BILL BOW­DEN

SILOAM SPRINGS — The heav­i­est load per­mit­ted to travel on an Ar­kan­sas high­way ar­rived at its des­ti­na­tion Fri­day with 15 min­utes to spare.

The 1-mil­lion-pound trans­port was per­mit­ted to travel 56 miles over two days, only be­tween 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The jour­ney started at 9 a.m. Thurs­day and ended at 2:45 p.m. Fri­day. Speeds av­er­aged 10 to 15 mph.

South­west­ern Elec­tric Power Co. needed to move a 454,000-pound au­to­trans­former from its sub­sta­tion in Ton­ti­town to one 10 miles south­east of Siloam Springs.

The ad­di­tional weight rais­ing the to­tal to more than 1 mil­lion pounds con­sisted of three trucks, a trailer used to haul the au­to­trans­former and an­other trailer in back, which or­ga­niz­ers said helped with brak­ing. All five of th­ese things were linked to­gether to form the trans­port, which was longer than a foot­ball field. One truck pulled, while the other two pushed.

A car­a­van of po­lice cars and other ve­hi­cles trav­eled with the trans­port, tem­po­rar­ily clos­ing roads and rerout­ing traf­fic. The trans­port was 19 feet wide, or about 7 feet wider than a nor­mal high­way traf­fic lane.

A cir­cuitous route was cho­sen to keep the trans­port from go­ing over bridges that might not be able to with­stand the weight, said Danny Straessle, a spokesman for the Ar­kan­sas High­way and Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment. The two sub­sta­tions are only 23 miles apart along other high­ways.

Mon­tanna McCarty, the trans­port driver, said rain early Fri­day could make things more dif­fi­cult.

“It’s hard to get trac­tion in the rain,” he said from the cab of the trans­port.

But the rain stopped around noon, and the sun was shin­ing shortly af­ter­ward.

McCarty works for In­ter­moun­tain Rig­ging & HeavyHaul of Salt Lake City. That com­pany and H. Brown Inc. of Eu­nice, La., were hired to move the au­to­trans­former for South­west­ern Elec­tric.

The au­to­trans­former was a spare at the Ton­ti­town sub­sta­tion for 10 years, said Peter Main, a spokesman for South­west­ern Elec­tric. It will be used to step down volt­age as part of the re­gion’s elec­tric sys­tem.

The trans­port got some at­ten­tion on Fri­day morn­ing when it went through down­town Lin­coln, about 21 miles south­east of Fayet­teville.

“I’ll go and look when it comes through,” said Gary Reed, owner of Reed’s Tire & Lube, who was putting new tires on rims.

At Burger Land, own­ers Gary and Amy Ezell­went out­side to watch the car­a­van go by.

“You don’t see some­thing that big ev­ery day on the road,” Gary Ezell said.

“I was shocked to see the

num­ber of tires,” said Amy Ezell.

The trans­port was per­mit­ted for up to 32 axles. Axles were added and re­moved along the way. Ad­di­tional axles help dis­perse the weight be­fore cross­ing some bridges.

The trans­port stopped in Prairie Grove for the night, right after cross­ing the Illi­nois River bridge head­ing south­west on U.S. 62.

The trans­port was per­mit­ted at 362 feet in length and 1,088,000 pounds, said Straessle.

“This is the only mil­lion-pound load we have ever per­mit­ted,” he said. “This year alone we have is­sued more than 1,000 per­mits that we con­sider su­per­loads — those be­ing at least 180,000 pounds or more. Of th­ese, 18 of them were at least 300,000 pounds or more.”

Straessle said ev­ery­thing went smoothly Fri­day. H. Brown Inc. had to get a new per­mit Thurs­day af­ter­noon be­cause the trans­port was pulling a trailer in back, mak­ing the trans­port longer and heav­ier than the orig­i­nal per­mit al­lowed.

Ar­kan­sas Demo­crat-Gazette/BILL BOW­DEN

A mil­lion-pound “su­per­load” is hauled up a moun­tain north of Cincin­nati in Wash­ing­ton County on Fri­day af­ter­noon on its way to its new lo­ca­tion 10 miles south­east of Siloam Springs. It took two days to move a 454,000-pound au­to­trans­former 56 miles from a sub­sta­tion in Ton­ti­town to one near Siloam Springs.

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