Ohio Coordinates ‘Super Load’ Cargo Movements on Trucks

The 11th super load sets out on May 31. (Ohio Department of Transportation)

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Ohio transportation officials are coordinating the movements of several trucks carrying “super loads” of cargo weighing up to 900,000 pounds and with greater heights, widths and lengths than typical loads in a complicated project involving intricate public and police coordination.

“The planning for these loads has been pretty intense,” Matt Bruning, Ohio Department of Transportation press secretary, told Transport Topics. “We had to evaluate the route, looking at things like vertical clearance and could the roads and bridges along the route handle each load. Then there’s coordinating all the law enforcement that goes with each load. It’s a big operation.”

The nearly two dozen “super loads” have since February made their way from an Ohio River dock in the village of Manchester onto roadways through central Ohio. Most of the massive cargo has been semiconductors being shipped for a new Intel facility under construction.

Intel is investing over $28 billion to build two chip factories in Ohio on a megasite extending 1,000 acres in New Albany, just outside of Columbus. The new site will be able to accommodate eight chip factories and associated support operations as Intel looks to boost production to meet demand for advanced semiconductors.

The project involves intricate public and police coordination. (Ohio Department of Transportation)

After arriving on barges in Manchester, each load is being moved onto a semi-truck for travel along a predetermined route to New Albany. According to ODOT, none of the loads contains hazardous materials.

The largest loads are yet to come.

“We don’t have the last ones scheduled yet, but we’re about to get into the biggest loads,” Bruning noted. “We’re hoping to get those all moved before school starts back up because they will have major impacts to traffic. These largest loads will be around three times larger than most of the loads we have moved so far. These will be high-impact to the public and we stress planning ahead and avoiding the route as much as possible.”

Slow-rolling roadblocks have accompanied each super load’s journey, which take several days to complete. The tractor-trailer combinations hauling the loads are escorted by Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers.

To reduce the potential for setbacks, ODOT has been partnering with local governments and utility companies in planning for adjusting traffic signals and utility lines along routes and either adjusting or removing large overhead signs to make way for the trucks.

“I think these moves have gone about as well as could be imagined,” Bruning said. “We’ve had very few hiccups and have stayed on schedule for the most part. One issue cropped up a couple of weeks ago that delayed a move by a week, but fortunately that load had not yet left the dock so there was no inconvenience to the public. We learned we could compress the schedule from the first couple of loads and have been moving these in three days instead of five.”

The most recent super load — the 11th one — was a tank for the new Intel plant that left the dock on May 31. The load was over 19 feet tall, nearly 18 feet wide and just short of 200 feet long. It weighed 435,420 pounds.

ODOT issues notifications before each load leaves the dock and continues sending notices throughout the cargo movements’ journeys.

“The response from the public has been amazing,” Bruning said. “We’ve had a lot of public interest.”

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