It isn’t often you can stop traffic in New York City. But W. J. Casey, which has been hauling heavy loads for more than 100 years in the northeast, brought traffic to a halt on the busy FDR Drive during a recent job.
The Union, NJ-based hauling, rigging and crane service company was called on to transport a new walkway for the Williamsburg Bridge, linking Brooklyn to Manhattan. The walkway consisted of 24 bright red steel sections, each weighing 100 tons (90 t) and measuring 120 ft. (36.6 m) long, 28 ft. (8.5 m) wide and 20 ft. (6.1 m) high.
Casey’s task was to transport the sections from the construction site at the Red Hook Marine Terminal in Brooklyn to the East River for a barge trip to the staging area in Manhattan. After that, sections were offloaded onto huge Goldhofer dollies pulled by Kenworth T800s for the land-based trip to the bridge. The movers had to be ready when police stopped traffic on FDR Drive in the middle of the night on Saturdays.
“We had 15-minute windows when we could move the sections across the highway, two sections at a time,” said Jimmy V. Biondi, one of the Casey co-owners with his cousin, Jim Biondi Jr. “There was a big penalty if the work was not done on time. We actually got them moved across in under 10 minutes each time. It was quite a circus, though.”
After the jaunt across the road, Casey employees hauled the sections onto the bridge deck, where they were hoisted onto pedestals by iron workers. The bridge was closed on weekends during the six weeks of the project.
When power companies, utilities and construction company contractors in the northeast need to haul transformers, generators and other heavy equipment, Casey is at the top of their list. The company has been a heavy hauler for much of its 102-year history. It has hauled transformers ranging from 5 to 500 tons (4.5 to 450 t), equipment for petroleum refineries and other large loads, such as the bridge walkway.
The Biondis start planning these jobs months, sometimes years, in advance. They must get approvals from myriad governmental agencies and companies, ranging from a state’s department of transportation and highway patrol to local cable, power and phone utilities that have to move lines to accommodate loads that sometimes exceed 19 ft. (5.8 m). “All of these jobs are tricky, and you’ll get into trouble if you think any of them are easy,” Biondi Jr. said.
On some highway moves, Casey has to get creative to comply with state requirements. For example, when a state prohibits a load of a certain size from passing over a bridge deck, the company constructs a bridge over the bridge using steel beams and rubber mats. “Once, we had to go into a river bed and place supports to shore up a bridge before we could drive over it,” Biondi Jr. said.
Casey needs a truck that can pull these heavy specialized loads. “You definitely need power, low-gearing ability, maneuverability, visibility in the cab and a truck that you know is reliable,” Biondi said. “Kenworths are the only trucks that meet those needs. We get good response from their engineering department, and they offer the best engineered trucks.”
Casey began buying Kenworths in 1995, and, today, it runs eight Kenworths out of its fleet of 10 trucks and plans to only buy Kenworths in the future. The company operates two C500s to haul the multi-ton transformer loads, which hit speeds of 5 mph. The C500 is suited to work in a “push-pull” combination, in which one tractor pulls a load while another truck pushes from behind, Biondi Jr. said.
These trucks feature planetary drive axles, triple frames, 20,000-lb. (9,072 kg) front axles and Allison transmissions powered by 450-hp (335.4 kW) Cats. Biondi Jr. said the company packs 50,000 to 60,000 lbs. (22,680 to 27,215 kg) of metal ballast to the back end of the C500s to boost their traction. The company also runs six T800s for other hauling jobs and to transport the C500s on trailers to the loading sites.