Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sixteen Wides

Westbound I70 on the way to the Johnson/Eisenhower Tunnels under the Continental Divide. The truck ahead of me was loaded with sixteen feet diameter eight foot tall steel oilfield tanks, as was I. We are under legal height for these loads, so we can run through the tunnels. Our "normal" loads are twelve feet in diameter laid on their sides, so we are usually at least just over fourteen feet tall. The tunnels are height limited to thirteen feet ten inches - just four inches over the legal height. We can't go through the tunnels that tall, so we have to go over Loveland Pass.

Depending on the state and the width of the load, we have to use escorts. The white pickup behind that load is an escort vehicle. When running four or more lanes, the escort runs behind the load. We can't see behind us very well if at all, so they let us know when we can change lanes, and run interference for us so we can.

But, today, we get to go through and save several miles, a bunch of time, and miss the gripping excitement of a narrow two lane mountain pass with extreme drops and few guardrails. When we get to the entrance, we have to pull over and get permission to go through. I had permission and was just waiting to go. We have to take both lanes as well.

And yes, there is snow at the tops and people are skiing.

I hate winter in the mountains, particularly if I have to drive through it.


Frank W. James said...

I'll bet when you go over Loveland at least you have the luxury of not meeting any oncoming Gleaner's with 20 ft. grain tables?

I farm on US 24 and have that problem with the 'windmill' trucks and the 'manufactured housing' convoys.

It gets interesting, if not for the looks and reactions.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Jeffro said...

Snork! At least Silver Seeders have a decent road gear - fast enough to be dangerous!

Farm.Dad said...

LOL Ill just comment here as a long time colorado native who has more than a nodding ability to deal with our CDOT regs . Colorado considers a traffic lane to be 12.5 ft across and 13.6xx ft high . Now understand that is inside of the " white line " to inside of the " white line " and from pavement to headache if you drop a tape mesure on the hightst point of the roadbed . Note i did not stipulate you will have that head space all across the road , the highest point of the roadbed is the crown of the road which is exactly in the middle . The road surfice will slope down from there at between .5% and 1.5% to the outside of the lane depending on the dranage requirements of the area . All recient construction colorado roads will be built such that if you can clear it in the middle you can clear it in your lane . However now that we are out of the " span the lanes " large loads and all things are rosey its not lol . Say a hwy was built to " spec " 10 or so years ago , and today you as a trucker have to drive it during or after new construction .... Well i hope you have good pilot car drivers as i have seen a 14 ft concrete overhead go to 12 and change. I am talking both overpasses and utilitys . Hitting a rea line at hwy speed is not necessairly hazardus to you as it will just peel off , but to the 4 wheelers , ect around when you cut it it might be bad . Many times in the contracts the clearance gets over looked , and in fact i have as an equipment oprater caused pauses in construction sites while they figure out just to handle out what i point out . As an operator its above my paygrade , as a human its not . Just be carefull . And as a side note to frank.. Our " Silver Seeder " is for the winter a corner post .. I suspect it will perfom well in that role LOL .

Jeffro said... - I'm so used to "riding the fog line" that I do it when the truck is "empty." If we keep our right side tires on the solid white line, the tanks don't go into the other lane. Guardrails, bridges without the shoulder extensions, mailboxes, culvert markers (bumblebees) and other protuberances require us to use the oncoming lane on occasion. It sure helps to have that escort out front advising of oncoming traffic.

I've heard that any line going over a road has to have at least sixteen feet clearance, but this is clearly not enforced. We tie on "kicker sticks" to the tops of our tall loads to help slide under power and cable lines. Cable lines are the worst - they generally could care less about height requirements when they string their wires. Depending on the state's requirements - we have a "pole car" out in front to see if they hit anything before we get there. I've hugged the side of the road many a time to get away from a sagging line.

But, we don't ship that many tall loads. Most of the time it's just twelve foot tanks, and we're going somewhere we've been a jillion times before. So, we know where we'll fit and where we don't.