The eighty odd metre rig with the 155 tonne power sub station cleared the intersection of Williams and Sanders Streets perfectly, we hit nothing, the only part of the entire rig to ride a kerb was the front wheels of my tractor and by the time Corey was pushing the rear corner into Sanders Street I had the front end of the load straight and dead centre.
I think I told you last time that Sanders Street was a dual lane road with shoulders specially used for bike lanes. I think I also told you that without those shoulders using Sanders Street for such a wide load would have been impossible and we’d have had to go even further out of our way making our twenty four kilometre trip creep ever closer to fifty kilometres instead of the thirty eight it was. Well if I didn’t tell you that I have now, so what does it all mean?
What it means for me was that for the next eight kilometres I would be riding the white line. If I could keep the centre of the truck on the painted white double lines of the road it meant the load was centred and we’d be clear of all problems. Our crew had been out the day previous with a tree lopping crew making sure that there was no over hanging branches to cause us issues or damage.
We also knew that there was no power poles thanks to the power being put underground when the area was redeveloped ten years earlier, the light poles were also set back and didn’t over hang the road. They were all reasons we chose the bureaucratic bullshit of fighting to get Sanders Street as a part of our route.
Sanders Street was a residential street and although we did our best to keep noise down the lights and the engines couldn’t be helped and if we woke people there wasn’t much we could do about it, but we did try our best not to do it. Apart from the bureaucratic bullshit the only other real problem we potentially faced in Sanders Street was that after hours the bike lanes became a shared zone for both bikes and parked cars.
Even though the residents all got mail outs telling them the road would be closed on a particular date and between set hours and the fact that we erected large light boards warning of the road closure there was always the possibility of someone parking their car on the road’s edge. The police and roads corp did their best to stop it happening but it only takes one naive person driving down the road before it’s closed to ruin everything.
Of course we had the right to have a vehicle in our way towed, because by the letter of our permits they were illegally parked, but we tried not to do it, however it’s also not a pleasant job knocking on doors at midnight looking for the owner of a car who inevitably doesn’t live in the house the car is parked out front of. Thankfully from the reports we’d had no cars had crept into place since the road was officially closed for our use.
Because no other traffic could share Sanders Street with us Pete would have lead pilot vehicle only about fifty metres ahead of us and there would be one roads corporation care ahead of him with their lights flashing. Such a convoy was required by law but because the police and roads corporation had any side roads closed off from traffic they weren’t needed for safety.
Because of the lack of immediate dangers, or hazards to us, our load, the public, or the roads we’d be able to increase our speed back up to about forty kilometres per hour and the walkers would be sitting comfortably in their respective vehicles. However I must say this hasn’t always been the case. The first time we took a load this size down Sanders Street none of us took things for granted and we did the entire eight kilometres at walking pace just to make sure no calculations had been missed. Fuck that was a long night I tell you!
Just because the road is wide enough, it’s shut off, we can increase the speed and we have the right of way doesn’t mean we can also shut our brains off. For the entire eight kilometres we are watching, listening, and feeling for every movement of the truck and its load. The police and the roads corporation workers that we pass also have their eyes open and the radios are kept silent in case someone needs to say something quickly. You might think it’s a good feeling seeing green lights all the way, even when you’re restricted to forty kilometres per hours but it comes at a price and that price is you get bored.
Survey a hundred road users and you’ll probably get 90% of them tell you the faster you drive the less bored and complacent you get but that’s a load of shit, a thinly disguised veil of bullshit spoken by those who have trouble maintaining speed limits. The boredom doesn’t come because of an exact speed it becomes because of a set speed. Any constant speed without stopping for so long and all driver’s minds begin to wander, add tiredness to the mix and it can be a dangerous .
So while we might have been able to increase our speed up to forty kilometres an hour again it was the fact that we were travelling dead straight and there was no traffic or traffic lights to break the monotony that could see us nod off. Thankfully it didn’t happen very often but wandering minds happened all the time.
It wasn’t until the six and a half kilometre mark that my mind really started to working overtime again as it thought about our next turn. Our turn into Parkdale Avenue wasn’t a difficult one, in the scheme of things it would be one of the easiest we made all night but that didn’t mean I didn’t prepare myself for it. I guess it’s kind of like a rally car driver who despite having a navigator in the seat beside him goes through the track in his mind as a part of his practise. He goes through the gear changes he needs to do, which corners go which way, the speeds to be travelling at and where dips and rises in the track are. For every obstacle I would go though all the hazards, all the traps, all the turns and points I needed to know to get my load past in one piece.
Once we’d negotiated Parkdale Avenue I’d barely get a chance to rest my mind before thinking of the next intersection and the one after that. Then by the time we were on Frank Street all my thoughts would be going to our last and biggest obstacle of the morning, getting the load up the freeway exit ramp and onto the freeway.
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.