Second ‘Superload’ Sunday

BENWOOD – For the second time in two months, a Williams Energy de-ethanizer weighing about 510,000 pounds and stretching nearly a half-football-field long found its way to the CSX rail yard via train.

Now, the contractors’ mission is to get the superload from Benwood to the Oak Grove facility in three days by using a special Goldhofer device, starting by 9 a.m. Sunday.

“They have jumped through all the hoops. We do not anticipate any problems,” said Brent Walker, spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Transportation. “We will try to keep the public updated of any changes to the schedule.”

In February, Williams’ first superload made such strong progress the first day that contractors moved it past the planned stopping point, placing it on W.Va. 88 in the Sherrard area at a time when it was not supposed to be there.

Marshall County Schools Transportation Supervisor Dave Smith said this resulted in some students arriving home about two hours late when their bus got stuck behind the de-ethanizer.

“We determined we needed tighter coordination,” Williams spokeswoman Helen Humphreys said.

While emphasizing “speed and progress may change stopping points,” the Division of Highways plans the following move schedule for the superload:

  • Sunday – Depart Benwood rail yard between 8 and 9 a.m., heading south on W.Va. 2 toward Glen Dale. One lane of traffic each for northbound and southbound traffic will maintain as the machine moves through the Narrows. The superload will turn left onto W.Va. 86 in Glen Dale. After reaching the top of the hill in Sherrard, the machine will turn right onto W.Va. 88. It will then stop for the night in the Pine Hill area.
  • Monday – The de-ethanizer will move south on W.Va. 88 to the intersection of U.S. 250. Turning left onto U.S. 250, plans call for the superload to reach the area known as the McElroy substation along Fork Ridge Road by the end of the day.
  • Tuesday – The superload will complete its journey by moving along Fork Ridge Road to the Oak Grove facility.

Both Humphreys and DOH officials emphasize this is a planned schedule because unforeseen circumstances can cause necessary changes. There will be updates of the superload’s progress available at and

“We are optimistic we can make the same progress as last time and get it to Oak Grove in three days. We have to plan for possibility that it could take longer because weather is always a wild card,” she said.

During the initial de-ethanizer’s journey, crews from American Electric Power and Frontier Communications rode in the convoy.

Humphreys said there were two locations along the route where workers needed to lift utility lines to allow the enormous machine to pass.

“To my knowledge, there was no damage,” Humphreys said. “And it was a pleasant surprise to see so many people come out to see us, as the waived and took pictures. It made our crew feel good.”

Humphreys said the contractors originally planned to begin moving the second superload Friday, but decided to wait at the request of a Fork Ridge Road business owner planning to have an open house over the weekend.

“We made a decision to accommodate them,” she said.

Delegate David Evans, R-Marshall, lives in Cameron. He said he hopes Williams and the DOH will do a better job of alerting motorists of where the machine will be at any given time.

“They need to direct people to alternative routes,” he said. “I don’t think the machine will hurt the roads because of the way the weight is distributed on that machine.”