By: Michelle Tunquist

Hauling high loads can be a challenge.  There are many different aspects to coordinate and think about when planning a route.  If the haul goes across state lines it can be even more difficult.  WM Services has experience planning and handling high haul loads and will take care of every step.

Obstructions for High Loads

When hauling high loads, there are more obstructions to worry about than just bridges.  Until you have to move a high load, you may not realize all the obstructions that exist.  Obstructions include:

  • Signs. Hanging overhead signs above the road can block a load.  It is important to identify all sign obstructions and find a way to move around them or take another route.
  • Signal Lights. Traffic lights can block a heavy load.  Sometimes it is permissible to maneuver around the lights, but when that won’t work, it is necessary to hire an “approved” light contractor to lift the lights out of the way.
  • Railroad Crossings. There are often obstructions at railroad crossings.  The owners of the crossings must be contacted and asked to help lift any obstructions out of the way.
  • Trees. Sometimes trees can block high loads from passing.  If this is the case, sometime permission can be obtained to trim or remove the trees.  For older trees the the municipality may want to protect, it may be necessary to tie branches back to move the obstruction out of the way until the load safely passes.
  • Bridges. Bridges come in different sizes and shapes.  Not every state has the heights recorded and it may be necessary to go out and measure bridges to ensure safe passage.
  • Wires. Cable, electrical and phone wires often obstruct loads. When this occurs, the utility company must be contacted in advance and provisions made to move the load.  Sometimes they must be present even when the load will safely pass underneath.

All these possible obstructions mean that there are a variety of entities that must be contacted before a high haul can occur. Coordinating with utility companies, light contractors and railroad operators can require a lot of time and finesse.

Clearance Requirements

Every state has separate clearance requirements.  These are the amount of space that must be between the top of the load and the bridge.  It is important to know the different requirements and ensure that they are met.  Common clearance requirements include:

  • 2 in Clearance.  There needs to be at least two inches between the top of the load and the bridge.
  • 6 in Clearance. There needs to be at least six inches between the top of the load and the bridge.

Many states have maps/charts that contain the height of each bridge, but some do not.  When the height of the bridge is unknown, then it has to be manually measured.

Avoiding Obstructions

There are many different ways to avoid obstructions, but each state has different rules about what is okay and what is not.  Each state’s specific guidelines must be checked before moving the load.

  • Re-Route. The most common option is to choose a different route if there is an obstruction that may block the high load.  However, this is not always possible as there may not be another route.
  • Use Exit-Ramp, Re-enter On-Ramp. If a bridge is too low, some places will allow the trailer to use the exit-ramp and re-enter on the on-ramp once the bridge is avoided.  This may not always be an option.
  • Lower Trailer with Hydraulics. Some places will allow the trailer to get lowered using hydraulics, and then move under the bridge, and then get raised after the bridge is cleared.
  • Intersection Signal Help. Sometimes traffic signals can be bypassed by entering the opposite lane of traffic and maneuvering around the light.  When this won’t work, then approved light contractors must lift the signals.
  • Route Surveys. Route surveys are the best way to ensure that the route is clear of obstructions.  The route will be traveled in advance with a pole raised slightly higher than the load.

Building Relationships

Any given route may require the coordination between several different parties.  Utility companies, light contractors and police escorts may all need to be contacted and schedules matched so that the appropriate personnel can be present when the load reaches each location.  You can imagine how complicated it can get to schedule when the load will pass under an electrical wire, then an hour later under a phone line, and then several hours later through a traffic intersection.  WM Services has experience planning and coordinating heavy hauls. We’ve spent years building relationships that help us to make this process smooth and hassle free.

Let Us Do the Planning

Planning this type of haul can be overwhelming for someone that has never done it before.  Let us do the planning and coordinating so that you can stay worry free, knowing that your heavy haul will go off without a hitch.  Contact us today at (208) 547-4707 to start planning your next project.