Load dimensions are critical to transporting heavy equipment and machinery. Heavy haul drivers can be required to deliver to a wide range of locations, from metropolitan areas to rural sites. Drivers may have to contend with bridges, overpasses and a variety of road surfaces. All of those are critical elements when transporting heavy loads to avoid damage to trucks, cargo and infrastructure.
Despite improvements and repairs to interstate roads, there’s a whole other world out there where secondary roads have received only minimal upkeep to bridges. Many structures were built at a time when heavy haul loads were smaller in terms of height, length, weight and width.
Almost everyone has seen at least one newscast showing a truck stuck under an overpass, disrupting vehicle or even rail travel. The damage to the truck and overpass can be extensive. It’s one of the reasons that escort vehicles are often used. Heavy haul companies make every effort to carefully map out routes to avoid those problems, but they can still arise. Escort vehicles run interference for truckers and keep them informed about potential problems.
The length of a heavy hauler can be a problem, particularly on secondary roads that may have sharp curves and turns. Rural roads aren’t designed or laid out in the same way as primary routes. Heavy haulers require more room to maneuver.
Primary roads are typically maintained in decent condition, but there are exceptions. Secondary roads, also known as feeders, are an entirely different matter. They’re usually maintained by local governments and in an attempt to manage costs, the roadbed and surface may not be able to adequately handle the weight of a heavy hauler. Damage can be significant and the bridge may collapse.
The width of a heavy haul load can also be problematic, especially on secondary roads and in rural areas. Many of the bridges in those locations haven’t changed much in decades, haven’t been updated to wider widths, and are nearing the end of their lifespan. No trucker wants to find themselves with a need to back up or attempt a turnaround.
Another problem in rural areas are bridges that are deliberately cut narrow to accommodate road widths or a lack of shoulders. Many of these constructions barely leave room for two cars to meet on the bridge at the same time. It’s easy to see how this presents a problem for today’s wider loads.
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