The big truck travels through Minnesotaby Toni Randolph, Minnesota Public Radio
A huge semi is making its way into Minnesota, through the Twin Cities and on toward North Dakota. The super-sized load weighs 458,000 pounds -- the same as 28 full-grown African elephants.
St. Paul, Minn. — The big truck that will be moving through Minnesota is carrying an industrial dryer for an ethanol plant in North Dakota.
To accommodate the big load, the vehicle is more than 200 feet long, about 18 feet wide and more than 14 feet tall. It has about 100 wheels. There's one truck pulling the load, and another pushing from behind.
"This isn't a regular-sized big truck," says Dennis Lachowitzer. "This is extraordinary!"
Lachowitzer works for the Minnesota Department of Transportation office that issues permits for oversized and overweight vehicles.
"It's not the biggest load we've ever moved," he says. "But it's what we call a superload. Very extraordinary."
The superload requires special accommodations.
Lachowitzer says when a trucking company wants to move something this big, it's required to get a special permit. To get that, the state required the trucking company to survey the truck's proposed route, to make sure it could make all the turns.
The state also inspected all of the bridges on the route to make sure they're strong enough to support the load. MnDOT also checked the underpasses to make sure they're tall enough for the rig.
The big load is traveling westbound on Interstate 94. It will by pass the downtowns of St. Paul and Minneapolis using I-694, then get back onto I-94 and continue on up through Sauk Center.
Lachowitzer says there are several construction projects along the way, and there's only a small window of opportunity to get through one of them without complications -- that's the resurfacing project between Clearwater and St. Augusta. The road crews aren't working on that project tonight.
"If they don't get through in the timeframe that we've permitted, then we'll have to issue a revision on the permit to use an alternate route to avoid that project," Lachowitzer says.
However, the construction company says it can accommodate the load if the super-sized semi doesn't make it through, if it has advance notice.
The permit from MnDOT requires the truck to travel between midnight and 5 a.m. through the metro area. The truck company says the vehicle will travel about 50 mph on the interstate, but can slow to about 5 mph if it has to make turns.
Kevin Smith, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, says two state patrol squad cars will meet the vehicle at the Wisconsin-Minnesota border at 2 a.m. Tuesday.
"And they will escort this rig through the northern metro and off westbound on 94," Smith say. "They'll be through the metro before most of us have our first cup of coffee in the morning, which is good because it won't tie up any traffic."
The State Patrol will escort the oversized vehicle from one end of the state to the other, with a layover in Sauk Center. The trucking company pays for the police escort.
This large load is making big headlines, because it's coming through the Twin Cities. But state officials says a similar load slipped through Minnesota about three weeks ago -- and they're expecting at least one more later this year.
- All Things Considered, 07/24/2006, 5:51 p.m.