A little over a year ago, an oversize truck traversed a bridge on FL 710. But it was no ordinary oversize truck. This truck held the largest load ever to cross a Florida bridge. Weighing in at 1,308,000 lbs. (593,299 kg) or 654 tons (593 t), it required a specially designed truck trailer that spread the load out longitudinally and transversely. It was one of 21 superload plus loads that would be transported by Beyel Brothers Inc. of Cocoa, Fla., for the construction of a new power station in Loxahatchee, Fla.
Florida Power and Light contracted Zachry Construction Company of San Antonio, Texas, to build the $1 to $2 billion power station, and Zachry needed heavy combustion turbines and generators, steam turbine generators, HRSG boiler modules and steam drums for the plant.
Getting the massive generators to the job site proved an intricate study of logistics and innovation. When the heaviest of these loads had to be transported, a special rig for crew and hardware was created just for the job.
The transport job entailed a 30-mi. (48 km) trek from the Port of Palm Beach to Loxahatchee, crossing three bridges and passing under many overhead wires and cables.
The first move took place on Feb. 12, 2008. Prior to the first move were 14 months of planning and negotiations with state and county authorities to obtain permits. Among the equipment transported on the first move was an 800,000-lb. (362,874 kg) turbine. The total combined load for this turbine and trailer weighed 1,308,000 lbs.
Approximately 10 FDOT officers were onsite to weigh all 128 wheels with portable weight scales to ensure the equipment was loaded properly.
No other vehicles were allowed on the bridges during the moves and the trailers were restricted to walk speed when crossing them to allow the flex of the bridge to redistribute the weight of the load evenly to the pylons at each end of the span, reducing dynamic effects.
“The six gas turbines were the heaviest loads ever to cross a Florida bridge,” said Tony Hillman, chief operating officer of Beyel Bros Inc. “We transported 21 superload plus loads, 108 superloads and numerous permit and legal loads.”
Superload plus loads weigh more than 800,000 lbs. Superloads are loads between 400,000 and 800,000 lbs. (181,437 and 362,874 kg). Permit loads include any loads that require a permit to transport.
“This was in fact the heaviest move request on record in our Permits Office in Tallahassee and probably the heaviest move in the history of the state,” said Brian O’Donoghue, FDOT assistant district structures maintenance engineer. “It took more than three hours to get to the site. It was quite a production. They had bucket trucks ahead of the mover primarily to lift utility wires that were too low.”
Equipment and logistics had to pass the grade by the FDOT, Palm Beach County, and The South Florida Water Management District. Beyel engineers had to develop and modify a trailer (The TrailKing TK800) to make the load. The trailer was 280 ft. (85 m) long and expanded to a full width of 21 ft. (6.4 m). It weighed 400,000 lbs. (181,437 kg) and was dual-configured for the job to spread the load across two lanes of highway.
To haul the enormous trailer, Beyel had a Peterbilt truck custom built. The truck had a 600-hp (447 kW) engine and was supported by several prime mover push trucks, including Pacific, Cline and Oshkosh trucks. A second trailer, a Goldhofer THP, bore loads up to 335,640 lbs. (152,244 kg). It also was driven by a Peterbilt truck and was used for the lighter loads.
The loads crossed three bridges, two of which had to be modified to accommodate the incredible weight. The first bridge, on FL 710, was fitted with needle beams. The last bridge, just before the job site on U.S. 441, was supported on crutch bent piles during the moves. To avoid disrupting traffic, the Beyel road train moved between the docks and the power station only at night, loaded or empty. Even with nothing loaded onto it, the road train weighed approximately 200 tons (181 t) and had to travel on the bridges alone.
“The lesson learned for me is that, with proper planning, good communications and effective partnering and teamwork, great things can be accomplished,” said O’Donoghue. “This was not a piece of cake. There were many pitfalls and concerns from a number of people that all had to be addressed along the way.”
For one thing, the bridges had to be strengthened. The job also required numerous permits.
“They needed permits from our office in Tallahassee and from the South Florida Water Management District. They were traveling through an area that was currently under construction, so precise coordination with the contractor was essential so as not to interfere with their work. We were also concerned with the roadway conditions and maintenance of traffic. I think the coming together of a lot of people to make it happen was the most impressive aspect of this operation,” said O’Donoghue.
Beyel has completed two phases of the transportation project and has been awarded phase three, which starts in the last quarter of 2009. It is scheduled for completion in 2010. CEG