294-ton oversized load to travel through Franklin next week

An oversized load may disrupt travel this week on Interstate 80, Route 322 west, which includes Liberty Street in Franklin, and Route 62 through Polk.

A PennDOT news release has advised drivers that an oversized “superload” is expected to travel through the area this week, possibly as early as Monday.

But the load will mostly be traveling at night to minimize the disruption to traffic.

The superload, which is 213 feet long and weighs 294 tons, will move along interstates 81 and 80 for the majority of its trip, according to the PennDOT press release.

However, once it reaches western Pennsylvania, it will travel along Route 322 west through Franklin and onto Route 62 toward Polk before returning to Interstate 80.

The load is making a more than 400-mile journey from West Milton, New York, to Wampum, Pennsylvania.

The superload will travel as a rolling slowdown using two traffic lanes, which will result in traffic stoppages and travel delays, according to the release.

Since the superload takes up two lanes, drivers will not be able to pass it on the highway, said PennDOT press officer Jill Harry.

“It is not just heavy, it is wide. You won’t just be able to zoom by it if you are on 80,” said Harry.

The majority of the transport, currently scheduled to be completed Jan. 21, will take place during nighttime hours. Movement could be impacted or delayed by winter weather, including this weekend’s predicted major snowstorm.

The superload travel plan will involve 16 counties and will feature ramp maneuvers, unusual traffic patterns and slow-moving vehicles, according to the release. Drivers will need to remain alert for this slow-moving, two-lane operation, which will travel at the posted speed limit or 30 mph — whichever is lower, said the release.

Harry said the load is being transported by Perkins Specialized Transportation Contracting of Becker, Minnesota.

When asked why the company is transporting the load through Franklin instead of along I 80, a representative for Perkins said they have “no comment.”

The company also has no comment on how it plans to move the 294-ton load up the hill from Franklin to Route 62.

Harry said that one consideration when planning the route is the weight limit of bridges along the route.

The load itself, according to Harry, is “an empty steel tank that was moved from a D1G prototype reactor, used by the US Navy… They are going to dismantle it, and then they will recycle what they can.”

The steel tank is leaving the Kenneth A. Kesselring Site, said Harry. The site is a Naval nuclear reactor laboratory, according to its website.

Harry added that the tank was part of a training operation that was shut down in 1996.

Department updates on the superload’s travel can be followed on social media with the #PAsuperload22 hashtag, the release said.