Preparing for what may be largest object ever moved through Oklahoma

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 10/17/2014

An Oklahoma trucking company doesn’t plan to drive faster than 30 miles an hour during its next haul. And its drivers are just fine with that.

Northwest Logistics Heavy Haul spent Friday preparing for what may be the largest load ever moved through the state of Oklahoma. The company, based in Woodward, Okla., will use four trucks to haul a 186-foot-long, 535,600-pound demethanizer to a gas processing plant in Colorado.

Courtesy of Johnny Mefferd

Pictured above is an identical demethanizer that was moved last year from Idaho to Colorado.

Two trucks will pull the two-lanes wide load, and two trucks from behind will help push the demethanizer from the Broken Arrow, Okla., facility it was built at to a gas plant in Fort Lupton, Colo. The total weight for the haul is 1,192,000 pounds. Broken Arrow police believe it may be the largest object ever moved through the state.

Plans call for the load to move west on Oklahoma Highway 64 and travel through Glenpool on Saturday. On Sunday, the company will roll on through Sapulpa before delivering the load 14 days after it begins rolling.

Johnny Mefferd, operations manager for Northwest Logistics, told Land Line the move shouldn’t disrupt traffic much beyond U.S. 75 being shut down for about five minutes Sunday morning.

“No, there will be short delays on Highway 75 and that’s about it,” Mefferd said. “We have to travel against opposing traffic for about a mile on 75 there. Once it’s out on what we call open highway, it will get up to 25 to 30 miles per hour.”

Mefferd said the company hauled an identical demethanizer last year from Idaho to Colorado. The 21-day job included climbs through two mountain ranges and helped the company win the 160,000 pound or greater category “Job of the Year” award from the Specialized Carriers and Riggers Association.

Each demethanizer broke the company’s record for longest payload object, though it didn’t break any weight records, Mefferd said. The load’s two-lane wide setup helps weight to be distributed more evenly, he said.

“We did pretty well in the same weight category move from eastern to western Oklahoma before,” Mefferd said. “We move a whole lot of stuff just under that 500,000 pound range. Anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000 pounds – we stay fairly busy moving that stuff.”

Heavy haul’s nature as a niche market binds it to a smaller pool of shippers like natural gas and energy producers. Mefferd said he doesn’t see any shortfall of available loads any time soon.

“The energy industry is thriving right now,” Mefferd said. “As long as the energy industry continues to thrive, they’ll continue to build big pieces.”
Besides permits from Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, Mefferd didn’t count the number of municipal permits the company secured for the job. Between 15 and 20 employees will see the project through, although many more Northwest Logistics employees have played a role in the move, he said.

“Our engineers have been working on this since January,” Mefferd said. “It’s been a total team effort. We have a group of drivers that do this type of work pretty well exclusively. Everybody has their roles. There is always a lead driver in the push truck and in this particular move we’ll use four tractors – two in front and two in the rear. Everybody knows what to do.”

Northwest Logistics has been trucking since the 1960s, Mefferd said. About six-and-a-half years ago, he said, the company started its heavy haul fleet.

The company won’t be standing around celebrating after making the delivery two weeks from now. Northwest Logistics Heavy Haul has lined up a load for its return trip, Mefferd said.

“We’ll offload this special – put two trailers together and take a couple of vessels from Idaho to Oklahoma that weigh 400,000 and 500,000 pounds each,” he said. “We’ll stay pretty busy the rest of the year with a few more jobs.”