Commercial industrial charters: trucking steel from Valdez to Salcha.

Author:Harrington, Susan

Commercial industrial transportation charter service is readily available at many levels in Alaska from providers throughout the state. Sometimes charters are needed with little notice, perhaps in response to unexpected events. Sometimes charters are needed because transportation is not regularly scheduled to desired destinations. Sometimes charters are needed to transport giant steel I-beams to build a bridge across a river, as in the case of Carlile Transportation Systems moving progress along.

Crossing the Tanana River

That progress is coming in stages. The Alaska Railroad's Tanana River Crossing--a bridge and levee at Salcha--is the first part of the Northern Rail Extension, a four-phase project that will extend the railroad 80 miles from North Pole to Delta Junction. Kiewit has been working year-round on the project since August 2011 and is planning substantial completion of the work in May-June 2014, according to Alaska Railroad Corp. Project Manager Mark Peterbers.

The steel girders arrive by barge after a three-week journey across the Pacific Ocean to the Port of Valdez, and are then trucked up the Richardson Highway some 300 miles to Salcha by Carlile--one by one. As commercial industrial charters go, this is a big one. "There are three sets of trucks that Carlile owns that can transport these beams," Peterbers says.

Special Equipment

Curtis Spencer, who works special projects, heavy haul, for Carlile explains how these massive beams are transported on special rigs. "It's not so much the truck itself, it's the trailers and trailering equipment we're utilizing on it," he says. "When we put them on part of a very large low boy without the deck sections and goosenecks in them--what we call dollies, steerable dollies, and they have turntables--and the beam sits on top of a bunk, and the bunk sits on top of the turntable, it allows us to be highly maneuverable."

That's a necessity considering the road from Valdez to the project site--there are a few twists and turns along the way--and the fact that each beam is 165-feet-long and weighs 70 tons.

Large Loads

"These are very big beams, probably some of the biggest beams that have ever been hauled in Alaska, but typically for us they aren't that big, we do this all the time, large loads," Spencer says. "For example, 100-ton, 80-foot-by-22-foot oilfield modules, very large mining equipment, wind towers--we did all the big wind tower projects in the state last year: Kodiak, Fire Island, Eva...

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