As I suggested last time our turn into Parkdale Avenue was probably the easiest turn we’d make all night and I wasn’t let down. I know the title of avenue kind of suggests a tree lined street and you could be excused for wondering why we’d be using such a street to manoeuvrer a 155 tonne load that is over four metres high, but it’s not what it seems. There isn’t that many trees along Parkdale Avenue but it’s biggest advantage for us was that it was dual carriage way with a fifteen metre grassed median strip.
What that meant for us was that the roads corporation could close of one direction of the road, feed traffic in two directions on the other side and again give us the chance to do our job without having to work our way around other road users. There was also no power lines and despite the bend about two kilometres from the Sanders Street intersection, which was a massive sweeping bend we could handle at speed, there wasn’t anything that would slow us down.
Because it was easier for our turn off Sanders Street and easier when we came to the end of Parkdale Avenue and needed to turn into Castle Road we’d be travelling down the right hand carriage way. Again we’d be relying on the police and common sense of others not to park their cars on Parkdale Avenue and again reports were that people had listened. Luck was obviously on our side.
Turning left into Castle Road was a bit more of a pain in the arse, it was a big part of the reason we opted to drive down the right hand carriage way of Parkdale Avenue. From the right hand carriage way it gave us the ability to make the left hand turn wider which in turn got us straightened up quicker so we could centre line Castle Road.
We were making good time, it had taken us just under four hours and we were more than half way into the trip for the night. We weren’t yet counting our chickens because we still had a few eggs to crack.
We had to drop our speed by the time we got onto Castle Road, the road was still closed and traffic was not our issue but trees were. Like I’d stated before we do have a tree lopping crew that goes through the day before we travel but one can never be 100% sure of every tree until the load comes through. It’s a precautionary thing more than anything, we didn’t expect to hit any trees but dropping down to walking pace meant that if there was a risk we could stop before the load was hit.
The tree lopping crew had done very well, there was one branch that had broken in the wind since the crew had been through and there was a couple of small limbs that we needed to clear but they really didn’t slow us down considering the pace we were rolling anyway.
Remember I said not long back that the major hurdle was going to be getting this load up the exit ramp and onto the highway? Well that was true, we had of course done it before with large loads and we pretty much knew what we had to do to make it happen, but that didn’t mean we wouldn’t be on edge as we did it.
We’d be heading up the exit ramp in the opposite direction to normal traffic then at the top as we came onto the highway we’d straighten up and cross over onto the left side of the three lane highway we were supposed to be. The reason the exit ramp was our biggest hurdle was twofold not only was there a right hand bend in the exit ramp but either side of the dual lanes were Armco barriers, steel barriers made to absorb impact and stop vehicles driving off the road.
The bend itself wasn’t overly difficult, it was a sweeping right hander that bent slowly. We’d again have to do it at walking pace, in actual fact the pace would be so slow it wouldn’t even register on the speedos in the dashboard. However with the additional steering provided to us by the trailers steerable axles the trailer would handle the bend easily enough.
The bigger problem for us was the Armco barriers. The exit ramp was two lanes wide but only just and with our load taking up the width of two lanes you can understand why things are tight. Removing the Armco barriers would have made some difference but that just wasn’t possible. Even if we could remove the barriers themselves we couldn’t remove each and every mounting post. We could however remove the half dozen or so reflective directional signs that were mounted above the Armco barriers, it’s not like they’d be doing anything for us anyway because we would be travelling in the wrong direction to see them front on.
Instead of removing the Armco barriers we had to lift the load over the top of them, which was another reason our speed was slower than slow. With all the hydraulics on the trailer lifting the load, even a load of 155 tonne is easily achievable with the press of a few buttons but as I’m sure you can appreciate running a load high, especially one that is already four metres high, can easily present problems.
I guess I could be accused of being a little dramatic here, but hey it’s my story and I’ll be as dramatic as I like!
Point is I’ve already told you we’ve delivered big loads before, it’s our business. I have also told you that the route we were following out of the suburbs was a route we used pretty much every time, so you can also figure out that while the corner with the Armco barriers while posing us potential problems it was also something we knew how to get around.
It really was as simply as jacking the load up, but in all honestly we only had to lift the load a eighty five millimetres. For the size of the load it was substantial and our walkers would have to watch like hawks as we moved to make sure no part of the load dipped but it was totally achievable. Our biggest problem was of course that the Armco Barriers weren’t put in with us in mind, they were put in by the people who made the road. It’s not that such people do a bad job but because there is no real requirement on them being dead level the heights at each post could easily vary anything up to thirty millimetres. We always have some trailer lift in reserve, we rarely run it on the limits, but if we needed to raise it we needed to know before the load scrapped the barrier.
So now you know why I mentally prepared myself for the exit ramp long before we actually got there.
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.