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Big load to cause big delays next week


A million-pound load of equipment will slow traffic on local highways from Coulee City to Grand Coulee next week as it creeps to its destination just north of Grand Coulee, with delays expected of up to 90 minutes at a time.

Drivers probably should not plan to travel on SR-155 late Tuesday night, May 30, nor early Thursday morning, June 1, when a huge piece of equipment will be blocking traffic for up to an hour and a half.

An Oregon company will be moving a million pounds along the route from Coulee City to Grand Coulee, then up SR-174 on Thursday morning to an electrical “substation” just north of Grand Coulee, said Mark Richardson, project manager for Omega Morgan in Hillsboro, Oregon.

The payload is a large transformer being shipped in on an emergency basis after a “catastrophic failure” the Bureau of Reclamation suffered a few weeks ago, Richardson said.

The transformer will be moved from Coulee City on SR 155 Tuesday night from 10:30 p.m. to about 5:30 or 6 a.m., then park for the day south of Electric City at a long overlook along Banks Lake. Then at 1 a.m. Thursday morning it will begin the final few miles from there, up SR-174 to the substation on the right side of the highway just north of Grand Coulee, arriving at about 5 a.m.

The payload and the vehicle moving it will be 346 feet long and 20 feet wide. Its height will range from 18.5 feet to 21 feet; it will rise as axles are added for crossing bridges, of which there are five along the route. The rig has 32 axles.

The transformer was shipped by rail from Vancouver, Washington, to a siding north of Coulee City.

The move was fast-tracked on an emergency basis and took about a month to plan, Richardson said.

Originally planned for a move this week, the transport was rescheduled to next week after “discrepancies” noted during a “weigh and measure” session with the state Department of Transportation were resolved.

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