Kenworth T800s Help Omega-Morgan Move 100-Ton Expansion Joint for New Tacoma Narrows Bridge
ACOMA, Wash., – Troy Tallent never dreamed of leading a parade but during a three-day period in April, he was the ultimate grand marshal behind the wheel of a Kenworth T800 heavy hauler.
Tallent, vice president of Omega-Morgan Rigging and Industrial Contracting, and his crew of drivers and spotters had the delicate yet behemoth task of moving the first of two deck expansion joints to the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington state. An expansion joint is placed on either side of the mile-long suspension bridge and expands and contracts in the event of seismic motion, wind, and traffic movement.
While the heavy load exceeded 100 tons, its dimensions of 70 feet long and 15 feet wide and importance in the bridge’s completion captivated motorists, spectators and area media.
“Normally when hauling an oversized load we don’t get the thumbs up from motorists – we have to drive slow and take up several lanes,” said Tallent. “But when hauling the expansion joint at anywhere from 12- to 20 miles-per-hour, there were crowds cheering us on – even in the middle of the night.”
To handle the load, Omega-Morgan relied on two Kenworth T800s. “For what we do, reliability and durability are keys to our success,” said Tallent. “That’s why we’re moving to an all-Kenworth fleet. We’ve come to count on Kenworth to help us make even the most difficult moves.”
Omega-Morgan’s 300-mile journey to Tacoma began from Spokane with the necessary modular transporter to meet specific state weight and bridge laws. The Washington State Department of Transportation used 40 portable scales to clear Omega-Morgan’s transport of the expansion joint. Combined, the expansion joint, truck and its equipment weighed about 420,000 pounds.
For this job, Tallent used one Kenworth T800 as its lead tractor and the second Kenworth T800 as its push tractor. Equipped with a 600 hp engine, the lead T800 featured tri-drive axles with fully locking differentials. An 18-speed transmission with 4-speed auxiliary provided excellent torque and its 4:33 gearing came into play when combined with the pusher Kenworth.
“Our T800 push tractor has a 4:56 gear ratio with 52,000-pound rear ends with full lockers, and that’s important because the two Kenworths have to work in concert when hauling a heavy load,” said Tallent. “The lead driver and push driver are in constant contact with headsets and the different gear ratios let the lead truck shift at a different RPM than the push truck. This way one truck is always in the optimum torque curve while the other shifts.”
En route, Omega-Morgan’s T800s transported the expansion joint on I-90 across the Columbia River at Vantage, Wash., then headed up the more than 6% grade westbound toward the Cascade Mountains, and made it up and over Snoqualmie Pass at 3,000 feet of elevation before traveling down into Western Washington.
Maneuverability was also a key to the move. Washington State DOT officials were concerned with the home stretch near Tacoma where the expansion joint had to snake its way around two sharp curves to reach its final resting spot.
“While the expansion joint is 70 feet long, with the trailers and two trucks attached, we’re sitting at 200 feet from front to back,” said Tallent. “The Washington State DOT thought it would take an hour or more to make it through, but thanks to the Kenworth T800’s sharp turning radius and the steerable wheels on the dollies, it proved to be no problem.”
While the first expansion joint now rests firmly in place, Tallent and his crew repeated the entire process this week for a second expansion joint. “It will be nice when this bridge is complete (scheduled to open this summer),” Tallent said. “All our people at Omega-Morgan will take special pride when we cross the bridge – we’ll always be able to look back and know that we played a role in delivering the final pieces to complete the project.”
At its highest point, the roadway of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge is nearly 200 above the waters of Puget Sound. The new bridge is located next to the 1950 Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which replaced the 1940 version known as “Galloping Gertie”. More information is available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/TNBhistory.
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