Unpermitted ‘superload’ trucks ‘grounded’ in Rockingham

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

DMV Inspector Jeff White checks out one of the trucks involved on Friday morning

On Friday morning, DMV Inspector Jeff White checks out one of the trucks involved in the accidents on Thursday evening. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Two tractor-trailers carrying oversized loads that tore down wires and broke utility poles in Chester last night will spend the weekend and at least part of next week at a reststop in Rockingham while Vermont authorities engineer a way for them to safely exit the state on their way to Quincy, Mass.

Inspector Jeff White of the Department of Motor Vehicles Enforcement and Safety Division told The Telegraph this morning that the trucks did not have the permits to operate with the dimensions of those loads. “The company applied for the permits, but the request was denied,” said White. “The drivers said they were told that the permits were on file and they were pretty upset to hear that they weren’t.”

“They had a route sheet and they thought they were good to go,” said White. “But it was not from the Vermont DMV.”

Vermont considers a load a “superload” when it is either wider than 15 feet, longer than 100 feet, higher than 14 feet or weighs more than 150,000 lbs. The motor carrier moving a superload must request a permit and provide the truck’s dimensions so that the Vermont Agency of Transportation can do an engineering survey to plot a route for the trucks that avoids low bridges and other obstacles. The tractor trailers were 15 feet 10 inches high.

Hurricane Specialized, out of Franklin, Ind., is the company that was making the move and had requested a permit.  A call to Hurricane Specialized on Friday morning was answered by a person who consented to speak about the Thursday night accidents, but when she was asked to identify herself, the line went dead. Another call went unanswered.

One truck driver and a pilot car driver check portable scales as DMV Enforcement weights the trucks

One truck driver and a pilot car driver check portable scales as DMV Enforcement weights the trucks

“Every state is different in permitting,” said White. “But it’s on the company to get the permit.” He added that Hurricane Specialized will get citations for not having a permit for the dimensions of the trucks and citations for being overweight.

“We have to see if an engineering study was completed for the original permit request,” said White. “If not, we’ll need to complete one before we can issue a permit. I don’t think that will be done until next week.”

The trucks were carrying large “control buildings” manufactured by Intermountain Electronics, a company that makes power distribution equipment. According to pilot car driver Beth Kendall, the shipment has been on the road for weeks taking routes permitted by the states they needed to travel through.

Kendall said the trucks left Intermountain’s facility in South Point, Ohio, and went through West Virginia before having to wait a day and a half to get a permit from Pennsylvania. They then laid over a week in northern Pennsylvania waiting for a permit to pass through New York State.

Taking Interstate 88 from Binghamton to Albany, the oversize loads were obliged to pass through downtown Troy, N.Y., to reach Vermont, taking Route 7 north to Clarendon to reach Route 103, which they intended to follow to I-91 north to I-89 south and then through to Quincy.

“The routes are surveyed by the state, so when you get a route, you have to follow it,” said Kendall. “God help you if you get off the route.”

“People don’t understand that we don’t want to be on small roads and going through little towns, but these are the routes the states give us,” said pilot car driver Liz Zinslen.

Col. Jake Elovirta, director of Enforcement and Safety for the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles,  told The Telegraph that Hurricane Specialized had proposed a route that was turned down by the department. The company then proposed a second route and the state proposed a third route. But before the permitting office had been able to review the route, the company decided to go ahead. In a phone call this morning, Elovirta said a company representative blamed wires drooping in the heat and road surface raised by repaving, but Elovirta said that was no excuse.

“They were traveling in a corridor that they were not approved for,” said Elovirta. “They should not have been there. If they had been permitted they would have been required to have ‘blue light’ escorts and we would have met them at the New York border to weigh and measure the load before they could enter the state.”

“Now we are working on finding a safe route to get them out of the state,” said Elovirta.

According to Elovirta, Hurricane Specialized has liability insurance on file with the state and VTel, Green Mountain Power and the Town of Chester can make claims against that for expenses.

“DMV Commissioner Robert Ide has the authority to suspend a carrier’s ability to get permits in Vermont,” said Elovirta, “and that’s being looked at because of the impact that this incident has had on the state.”


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  1. An unfortunate situation for sure. Everyone responding to both incidents were friendly and professional. Kudos to those in the Chester area for having such capable folks to handle situations such as this.

    Upon speaking with the man from The Telegraph we learned that there may soon be a wind farm starting. Be ware and be aware folks. Make sure everyone knows how to properly respond when faced with confronting ANY oversize load. Give them room!

    They are not there to upset people. They are there to get a job done while protecting the motoring public, the load driver and the load. While many people try to play “chicken” with the loads or give the finger and honk and cuss because they are unhappy about them being there, this just helps to create an unsafe environment.

    Share the road and share the responsibility of being a safe driver.

  2. Cynthia Prairie says:

    Both front pilot vehicles had high poles. In the cover photo on the Thursday night story, you can see it clearly for the 2nd superload. And the Thursday article itself says “both trucks were led by pilot vehicles bearing height polls.

  3. David Peters says:

    Vermont does not allow superloads to traverse its state without special permission. The term is boot legging (moving a load without permission). They got caught. In the end, it will be a very expensive lesson that their employer learns. These vehicles are required to have a copy of the permit and they did not. They are in violation as well. The pilot vehicle in the front had no high pole (height measuring device). He or she is in violation for that as well. The drivers are REQUIRED to have an oversize permit in hand. They did not. They are in deep doo doo. I moved oversized loads for many years all around the U.S and Canada. They knew exactly what they were doing.

  4. Aula says:

    Interesting story. I am rather surprised they made it as far as they did on their Vermont route. They were neither detected by police nor did they run into obstacles until Chester. Another hour and they may well have made the border!

  5. Ken says:

    Great story Shawn…. superloads and other wideload traffic is a topic not many of us know a lot about until something like this happens. Great local journalism.