Just after 7 a.m. Thursday, a truck driven by 47-year-old Thomas Taylor of Ottawa, Alberta, Canada ran into some major unexpected difficulty as it was pulling out of the Flying J Truck Stop at US 59 and SH 242, beginning a 2,800 mile trek to Red Deer, Canada.
As Thomas turned westbound onto SH 242, a dip between the road and the parking lot caused his truck to tip and fall onto its side. His massive load was a 96,000 pound roll of 2 3/8 tubing used in oilfields. The spool, which held over 17,000 feet of tubing was 18 feet tall. According to Thomas, the spool could not be loaded on its side because it would cause the tubing to settle on the roll and tangle posing difficulties in using it at its final destination.
As Patton Village, Wood Branch, and Montgomery County Precinct 4 officers blocked the roadway, two Milstead heavy duty wreckers got into position and started the dangerous job of righting the load. After several difficulties they were able to right the trailer and spool as one unit. The truck and trailer were then taken into the parking area and unloaded. The big rig suffered structural damage to the trailer and had to be loaded onto another truck.
Late Thursday afternoon, the job was finally complete. The tubing will have to be returned to Quality Tubing in East Harris County- the product’s manufacturer. There, the tubing must be inspected before it starts its long journey again.
The load, which was permitted by TxDOT, must travel almost 900 miles just to get out of the state of Texas, due to overpasses which are too low for the spool to fit under.
The driver began his trip on Wednesday, but was told by TxDOT to cease operation for the day due to the severe weather and flooding. The driver had parked at the Flying J overnight. With escorts, the driver was being routed from Houston up US 59 to SH 242, then west to FM 3083. There they were told to travel north on US 75 through Willis, to Huntsville and then east on Highway 190 to Jacksonville, Texas.
According to a company representative with Alberta Ltd., the owner of the truck, loads of this nature are common, however not typically as tall. With its height, it is impossible to ship it on rail because of low overpasses. In addition, even though it was manufactured in Houston, most large loads of this nature come in through the Port of Houston. This, he explained, is due to the fact that west coast ports require travel through the mountains. The same is true for the east coast. New York City is also not an option, due to the size of the city, traffic, and the number of bridges and overpasses.
Taylor, who has been driving commercially for over 10 years, said he will now drive his truck home empty and find a new career. This was his second problematic incident in a number of months due to tall and unstable loads. Taylor said prior to that, he had never been involved in any such incident.