ITS OUR LIVELIHOOD
Thursday morning I woke up in Pennsylvania and immediately started..waiting. Waiting for a Virgina permit. We’d ordered it the day before and it wasn’t in yet. It wasn’t like this was a difficult load or anything. I was twelve and a half foot wide, about eighty foot long and only a hundred and twenty five thousand pounds. Piece of Cake.
We didn’t want anything special in the way of a route either. Just enter Virginia from the North and exit from the South on Interstate eighty one. Simple.
But nooooo. Virginia (and some other states) considers anything over a hundred and twenty five thousand pounds to be a “super load”. It might be several DAYS before the permit came back. That actually happened to me a month or so ago. I sat on the shoulder of a West Virginia pig trail for FIVE DAYS, eating out of truck stores (lucky I had them) and using the same hygienic facilities as the black bears.
But back to my current plight. Come noonish I finally got the Virginia permit. Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia require an escort for my dimensions. Tennessee does not. Consequently I needed to get to Tennessee by dark, otherwise the escort would have to find a motel. Since my company doesn’t pay the escorts for “overnights” this was a hardship on the escort. I don’t like to impose unnecessary hardships on escorts.
We made it to Tennessee with about ten minutes to spare. Hills and rain slowed me down some. I ran into some difficulties fueling, parking and finding food. It was dark, the ground was hilly, and I was tired. A shower was out of the question. I had a lot on my mind.
Next morning I took out at the earliest legal time. Straight up sun up. Down the road a bit was the Tennessee scale.
That’s where I had my first problem. It seems I’d neglected to draw a line on my log book. I hadn’t connected the quarter hour spot of “on duty not driving” in which I logged my morning Vehicle inspection to the “Driving” portion. About a quarter inch/three quarter inch line?
It cost me a ticket. Actually it was a warning ticket. I was, however, told in great detail that I COULD have been given a two hundred some dollar fine. I was lectured at great length by an admittedly foxy young chick , er, I mean a fine specimen of the Tennessee Highway Patrol of the feminine persuasion. Very YOUNG specimen.
Be that as it may. I was told in no uncertain terms by the Tennessee Highway Patrol that attention to detail, even a quarter inch or so line of ink on a piece of paper, was “Important to Our LIVELIHOOD” .
Flash forward several hours. I go through the last weigh station in Tennessee on Interstate forty heading west. Somewhere around the fifty mile marker. The ScaleMaster tells me there’s construction at the thirty three mile marker and no wide loads are allowed. I’m supposed to exit at the thirty five, take highway fifty nine north to highway seventy west to highway three twenty five south back to forty.
The problem is that my load is twelve foot six inches wide. Tennessee law allows that (and no more) unescorted on interstates. It does NOT allow it unescorted on two lane or non interstate. I’d need an escort.
So. I found a place to stop and called an escort.
The escort showed up in about an hour and we took off.
About two miles from getting on that nice, lovely, beautiful FOUR LANE highway 325 is this ugly, evil, nasty one lane bridge that’s under construction and is only ELEVEN FEET wide. Iron guardrails on one side and concrete jersey barriers on the other side. No way I could fit through. Did I mention that highway fifty nine is skinny, twisty and has some hills?
And traffic is PILING UP. Everyone and their brother is taking this detour in order to avoid the “back up” on the interstate due to the construction.
There I am. Stuck. I’m plugging up the road in both directions. Traffic is piling up for MILES.
After that it got ugly.
And I was thinking. How come it was so important this morning that I put a quarter inch mark on a piece of paper, the scalemaster (scalemistress) said so, but NOT important this afternoon for another scalemaster to direct a twelve foot six wide load through a eleven foot wide bridge? (I was thinking other things too)
So…since the difference between eleven foot and twelve and a half foot was unimportant…..
A fairly large number of police and deputies were called out, and spent several hours unsnarling a miles long traffic tie up.
An escort was called out, the expense of which accomplished exactly nothing.
An oversize load was forced to sit in Tennessee for the remainder of the weekend (not allowed to move on Sunday), causing the load to be later than projected.
Attention to detail, is important. It affects our livelihood, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol