Stopped superload draws early Monday
morning attention in Chester

A dairy tank takes a break in Chester on Monday morning. All photos by Linda Diak.

By Shawn Cunningham
Photos by Linda Diak
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

A 147-footlong “superload” that spent an hour on Main Street just west of the Green in Chester Monday morning had residents and passersby scratching their heads. The 62,500-gallon stainless steel milk tank bound for Ehrmann Commonwealth Dairy in Brattleboro  — from Winchester, Ontario, Canada via New York state arrived in town around 7 a.m. And then it stopped.

What was the problem, people wondered, as a host of wide load escort cars, law enforcement cruisers with their blue lights flashing and other vehicles lined up ahead of and behind the massive rig that was even equipped with steering at both the front and back to negotiate the turns along the way. In fact, it was the truck’s curfew.

Lt. Joel Howard, of the Bennington County Sheriff’s Department, who was traveling with the rig as a blue light escort, told The Telegraph that “they stopped because there was a travel restriction” on wide loads between 7  and 8 a.m.

According to Derek Fenby, chief of Commercial Operations for Vermont DMV, oversize loads are prohibited from traveling during peak traffic hours including that early morning hour, as well as at noon and  in the late afternoon. Fenby also said that Transportation National – the trucking company – was given special permission to start its drive at 5 a.m. so the truck could clear Chester before 7 a.m. But that was not to be.

“Our guys met the police at 5, had a quick inspection and started out at 5:15 a.m.,” said Steve Kays of  Transportation National. But hauling the 45,000-pound tank up and down the hills of Vermont meant that the truck could only average about 25 mph, arriving in Chester just as the curfew went into effect.

“It was one of the slowest I’ve ever been on,” said Howard who noted that they found a safe space and waited out the hour.

The movement of very large loads is often slow, circuitous and governed by permits for each jurisdiction along the way. And such large rigs are banned from many highways like the New York State Thruway and the Massachusetts Turnpike. In this case, Kays explained, the tank was routed through Thousand Islands, N.Y., to Binghamton on the way to Vermont and the trip approached 1,000 miles.

The seven-axle rig weighing 135,000 pounds entered Vermont Rt. 279 near Bennington, drove north on Rt. 7 and east on 11 through Londonderry and Andover before arriving in Chester. After the stop, the rest of the trip – along Rt. 103 south to Interstate 91 to Exit 1 and finally along Rt. 5 south to the dairy – was uneventful.

Sam Garland of Ehrmann Commonwealth Dairy in Brattleboro said the tank arrived without problems and he expected to have the tank installed by the end of the year. Click any photo to launch gallery.

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  1. Charlea Baker says:

    Route 11 is far gentler, wider and less twisty than Route 9. So that makes sense. But coming from Ontario I wonder if there was a route through Quebec and then straight down I91?. I am sure the transport company has the experience to figure out the best and safest route to the inch. What stopped this transport was curfew, not road conditions. Good job. We should be thankful that it reached it’s destination before the big storm.

  2. Melody Reed says:

    If it came from Ontario why not cross Canada and come down the Interstate avoiding all those tight turns? Inquiring minds want to know. lol I’d love to hear what you find out Shawn.

  3. Hi Arlene,
    These moves are regulated by the states they drive through and
    they must get permits. And in some cases there are engineering
    studies to make sure the trucks can make it. They are not allowed
    on many highways so routes are limited. We are talking with the state
    and some transport companies about doing a story on this for publication
    in the New Year.

  4. Kathy Vize says:

    Arlene, I found that odd, too. Why not 279 to 9, unless some areas of 9 are too narrow, steep grade or tight curved? I haven’t driven 9 between Bennington and Brattleboro in years, can’t recall conditions.

    At least it made it safely to the dairy.

  5. Arlene Mutschler says:

    who made their mapquest? In thru Bennington UP north and back down thru Chester to I91? to Mass??? really?