ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

Wide Load

12.22.14 by Danny Baldwin
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You may have seen the news coverage in October talking about the transport of a demethanizer tower manufactured by a company in Broken Arrow and trucked to Colorado. At that time it was talked about as being one of the largest, if not the largest, pieces of equipment ever transported across Oklahoma. The tower is used to separate liquid ethane from gaseous methane during the processing of natural gas. It is 186 feet long and 11 feet in diameter. It weighed over 500,000 pounds and traveled 800 miles over 16 days to Colorado.

What you did not hear about was the recent transport of a similar, but even larger tower that was actually on its way to Oklahoma. CF Industries ordered the production of a nitric acid absorption tower for their large nitrogen plant in Verdigris, Oklahoma. The whopping 200-foot long, 880,000-pound tower had just finalized construction in Germany and was on its way to Oklahoma when EDG International, a multi-discipline engineering firm overseeing the installation of the tower, asked us to provide civil engineering design and construction management services for a new road built just for the transport of this recording breaking shipment – all within a 30-day schedule.

The tower was shipped from Germany to Louisiana and then barged up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers to the Port of Catoosa. From the port, special permits were needed to transport the tower with double Goldhofer trailers. The trailers were pulled with a semi truck at each end. Each trailer has 10 double axels with dually wheels for a total of 80 tires on each trailer. When you add up both trailers and each truck you have a total wheel count of 188 tires.

The existing road going into the plant was not large enough to get the tower into the facility, so a new gravel road was needed to allow for the proper turning radius and weight of the 300-foot long, 18-foot wide, and 25-foot tall transport vessel. Our services also included survey and coordination of a geotechnical investigation for the area providing design for a new gravel road across and around an area that had drainage issues and a couple of high pressure gas pipelines.

Because of the extremely short timeframe, we coordinated with local contractors for the construction of the road. This road was only built for this particular transport and cost $365,000. The project was a success with the road completed just days before the arrival of the tower and the transport to the plant without any issues. The total cost just to ship the tower was $5 million, so if you could imagine any time lost due to shipping and construction could have a major cost implication to the project.

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Danny Baldwin, PE, LEED GA

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Danny received his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Oklahoma. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Oklahoma and a LEED…

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