Superloads - Superload - Super Load - Super Loads

No matter how you spell it, this is the big, bad boy of the heavy transport world. Generally, the defining characteristic for a super load is weight but certainly length, width and height play into the equation. A super load is first defined by the state DOT if it is going by truck and believe us when we say every state is different and the lead time for permits is usually a minimum of 10 days and for some states are out 8 to 10 weeks MINIMUM. And, this doesn't include the time necessary to conduct a route survey should it be required first.

Each state DOT will tell you how you can go, where you can go, when you can go, how fast you can go and how many others you'll need for the job (escorts, pole cars, police, utility companies, etc.). One states 10 axle superload mignt be another states 13 axle, so even the trailer used must conform to the most restictive state you will be transiting.

For example: The State of Pennsylvania defines a super load, thusly:

"Super load—A vehicle or combination or load having a gross weight exceeding 201,000 pounds, a total length exceeding 160 feet, or a total width exceeding 16 feet; except that the following shall not be considered a super load:

     (i)   A building moved under §  179.11(b) (relating to special vehicle—load restrictions).

     (ii)   A vehicle or combination moved across the highway under sections 4965 or 4966 of the act (relating to single permits for multiple highway crossings and permit for movement of quarry equipment).

     (iii)   A dragline moved across the highway under the permit."

This is directly from the Pennsylvania code,


The State of Maryland, however, while maintaining the same width, redefines the weight of a super load as:

" 01 Definitions.. A. In this chapter, the following terms have the meanings indicated.. B. Terms Defined.. 1) "Administration" means the State Highway Administration.. 2) "Excessive size" means an overall dimension of 16 feet or more in height, 16 feet or more in width, or 100 feet or more in length.3) "Excessive weight" means a gross vehicle weight exceeding 60 tons (120,000 pounds). 4) "Unit" means the Hauling Permits Unit of the Motor Carrier Division, Office of Traffic and Safety"

The link for this quote and other Maryland COMAR Title 11 is:

Title 11
Department of Transportation

So, what begins as a moderate load in Pennsylvania, say a 50 ton crane, becomes a super load in Maryland requiring police escort and if you're truly unlucky because the crane happens to be 12' wide you get to move it only on Saturdays between the hours of 9 to noon! Having fun, yet?

Oh, and you want it moved cheap because you forgot to add in the transportation cost when you bought it for export/import. Somethings are mutually exclusive, super loads and cheap being one of them. Now, cranes aren't that bad but consider a reactor vessel 13' in diameter, 120' long weighing 300,000 lbs or a wind turbine in - oh, lets say Missouri -

    "Truck driver Don Erickson, with the South Carolina firm of Owen-Kennedy Inc., spent more than 18 hours stuck on the ramp from County Route 100 to Interstate 44, blocking the ramp and baking in the summer sun.

    Erickson’s load, or more accurately, his super-load, was the problem. Erickson was hauling a wind turbine generator from a port on the Texas Gulf Coast to a wind farm under construction near Rockport, in the northwest corner of Missouri.

    The turbine was too tall to carry under I-44 at the U.S. 71 interchange at Fidelity, so MoDOT had directed Erickson to the County Route 100 interchange to turn around and get to U.S. 71 without going under the interstate.

    The problem — Erickson found out his truck was too long to make the left turn onto the County Road 100 bridge over I-44, leaving him stuck."

    This quote is from an article posted at National Wind Watch entitled,
    Super-load is a super-headache for driver, MoDOT



Now, please don't misunderstand, while the above article is entertaining neither the driver nor the company did anything wrong. They drove the route as instructed by DOT, but still problems arose. No one was hurt. No property damaged. Only time and money were lost. It is used strictly as an example of  life for those involved in super load transport. Problems may arise on any given load and everyone has their horror stories. As they say in Bull Riding regarding the possibility of an injury,  "It is not a question of if, but when and how bad."


Hiwide Transport can minimize the difficulties in many cases by using railroads. A 100 ton 10'6" wide load is not a superload for the railroads, even if it needs a specialty flat car. There is nothing overly special about it - no permits - and it can move anytime not just on a Saturday from 9 to noon. Standard flat cars range from 60 - 75 ton capacity and can be upto 89' long. Loads upto 13' wide have been readily accomodated, although they are treated differently by the railroads and do require a clearance. Loads beyond certain dimensions are called " Hi Wide" or "High Wide" by the railroads. This is a term of art used by the railroads and hence why we named ourselves "Hiwide Transport."

Whether you need to go by rail or need to truck it. We are here to serve your needs.
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