MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. – What’s nearly half-a-football field long, travels at a top speed of 5 mph and can clog traffic for hours at a time?
A so-called superload, and one’s scheduled to be coming our way this week.
The 41-yard-long de-ethanizer weighs 510,000 pounds and will help Williams Energy refine more ethane from Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas. It will make a nearly 30-mile trip from the Benwood CSX rail yard along the Ohio River to the company’s Oak Grove facility along Fork Ridge Road in Marshall County.
The 14-foot wide de-ethanizer now sits in Benwood after arriving via train from Houston, Texas. The journey on roads filled with dips and turns is expected to begin Thursday and last through Sunday, with various stops along the route.
Transporting such a superload takes coordination with the West Virginia Division of Highways, as well as utility providers such as American Electric Power and Frontier. Some utility lines may need to be temporarily raised to accommodate the move.
“This will be the first de-ethanizer for Oak Grove,” said Williams spokeswoman Helen Humphreys. “There will eventually be a second, which will probably come in March. But we need to get this one up there first.”
Officials with Williams and the DOH originally hoped to move the giant piece of equipment from Benwood to Oak Grove on Saturday, but Humphreys said weather concerns prompted a reschedule.
“The weather is always the wildcard – especially this time of year,” she said.
Starting early Thursday, the de-ethanizer will begin traveling to Oak Grove onboard a device known as a “Goldhofer,” which is a modular platform trailer suited to moving extremely heavy and difficult loads. The device will sit nearly 17 feet high on the Goldhofer.
“It will be steered remotely,” Humphreys said of the trailer, adding that the superload will generally travel about 3 mph, but never more than 5 mph.
As the de-ethanizer progresses along the route, there will be rolling shutdowns of the roads traveled. Humphreys said Williams’ contractor, Crane Rental Corp., will move the load during daylight hours, but will minimize disruption to normal traffic patterns as much as possible. She said Williams consulted the DOH regarding the safest route of travel…