Bridge Limits: Deep South Facilitates Complex Multi-Stages Delivery of Million Pound Converter

In preparation for a capacity expansion project, Deep South transported a 939,327-pound ammonia converter shell from the manufacturer to its plant in Donaldsonville, La. The trek required moving the system about 135 miles by water to a barge unloading site and 30 miles over the road.

Like any large transport, the move required careful preparation, some resourceful engineering, skilled maneuvering and some day-of-move flexibility—a challenge familiar to Deep South Crane & Rigging.

Deep South was awarded the transport contract for the ammonia converter and internals. Key in the move would be gaining permits and plan approvals from the Louisiana Dept. of Transportation and Development (DOTD) to move the converter from Plaquemine to Donaldsonville, a large part of which would be on Louisiana State Highway 1.

At the time, the primary areas of concern were two-fold: the short four-mile move from unloading site to LA-1, which would require a move through a cane field and 90-degree turn onto the highway, and then LA-1 to Donaldsonville, which would cross four weight- and width-limited bridges—all of which needed to be done in daylight and with state trooper support.

The first day of transport went smoothly. The converter was offloaded from the barge and stored. Crews prepped the converter on the 24 axle-line, double-wide Scheuerle SPMT, which could lift the converter high enough over the parish bridge railings and accommodate the 28’7” width. The team placed mats in the cane field, through a limestone area, and another cane field with no problem across all four miles, slow and steady. With its narrower stance and ability to raise higher, the SPMT could move through the cane field and over bridge to a resting spot on LA-992 with little problem, completing the task in one day.

Once to the staging area in the cane field near the state highway, the team moved the converter to an over-the-road 18 axle-line, double-wide Goldhofer THP trailer, and readied for the 25-mile trek down the state highway to Donaldsonville—which required some engineering to meet the DOTD bridge weight restrictions. To facilitate the bridge weight restrictions, Deep South planned to use deck spacers and dolly system.

Quintin Reeves, a Supervisor with Deep South explains, “Attached as an extra set of axles, the dollies help distribute the weight to a wider cross section of the bridge, distributing the load to additional girders. That ability to distribute the weight helped us get DOTD approval.”

Day three was relatively straightforward as well, with two more bridge crossings that required the dolly system for weight distribution. The trailer made it to Donaldsonville, pulling into the haul road entrance at the facility by afternoon. Day four included the transfer of the converter from the Golfhofer THP back to the SPMT and transporting to the final staging and storage area on the plant property.

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