A 294-ton ‘superload’ is crossing Pennsylvania right now


True story: When I was in college, I took a summer job with a temp agency as the driver of the “Wide Load Ahead” van for a manufacturer of mobile home frames. I was helping the semi string the bulky frames together and leading the way as we rode the county roads of northern Indiana towards the delivery site. It was a great job, partly because we stopped for cinnamon rolls or coffee or lunch after each load. One time the driver let me drive the unloaded semi through the parking lot and it was huge.

Compared to the 213-foot-long, 294-ton “superload” tractor-trailer driving through Pennsylvania right now, this truck I briefly drove looks like a Matchbox car. Traveling at a snail’s speed of 30 miles per hour and under, the superload truck hauls a gigantic steel tank destined to be dismantled and recycled at the state’s other site.

For scale, an adult blue whale weighs around 150 tons and can be between 70 and 110 feet long. So basically the driver tows the equivalent of two blue whales or seventy-three Hummer H1s.

The cargo itself is a piece of the D1G prototype reactor at West Milton, New York, where the U.S. Navy used the Kenneth A. Kesselring site for nuclear propulsion training until the mid-1990s. Beginning its journey on January 12, the massive truck and trailer will travel a total of about 400 miles in 10 days and mostly stick to Interstate 80, which runs between San Francisco, California and Teaneck, New Jersey. It’s a pretty hilly and mountainous road on the east side of Pennsylvania and anyone who drives this truck has to be a pro.

A local Lehigh Valley news site posted a warning, and I wholeheartedly agree: “A slow ‘supercharger’ is making a 400 mile trip through Pa. Avoid it at all costs. Here in Texas, it’s not uncommon to see a wind turbine blade attached to a trailer on its way to be assembled on someone’s property, and it’s much larger than you might imagine. The thought of being behind a two-lane supercharge in the middle of the night in winter gives me chills.

Still, it would be interesting to see.

Do you have any advice? Comment below or send a note to [email protected]


Comments are closed.