‘Superload’ travels 56 miles in two days, arrives early
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 & Heavy Haul 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.
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.