A massively oversized semi trailer that broke down last Wednesday (August 7) has baffled and frustrated residents of the East County community of Dulzura. The veritable train of trailers sat on the side of Highway 94 near the intersection of Marron Valley Road for a week.
The truck was traveling east on SR-94 when it broke down shortly before 2 a.m., blocking traffic in both directions for hours. Some six hours later, according to California Highway Patrol reports, the 400,000-pound “super load” was moved to a point where the road could be partially reopened. The following day, according to reports, it moved about 100 yards up the road and onto a shoulder, its resting place for the next week.
Local resident and artist Robin Brailsford contacted the Reader looking for information on the truck August 13.
“Since the  fires, the 94 is not certified for loads over 75 feet,” said Brailsford, echoing concerns of area residents who had to use the 94 as the sole escape route when the fire chased them from their homes.
At the site on August 13, the semi truck that had been pulling the trailer was nowhere to be found, though the trailer, several sets of auxiliary axles supporting it, and a second semi — functioning as a “pusher” vehicle — were still connected. Without considering the missing tow vehicle, the remaining assembly, with its 14 axles and 106 tires, was nearly 200 feet long.
“The trailer has all those extra axles to distribute the weight of the load evenly across the highway, otherwise bridges would collapse and highways would get torn up from that much weight,” explains Ryan McGaughy, the CEO and operations manager for East County’s Borneman Trucking. “That’s for really heavy stuff.”
Spanish-language installation instructions attached to the load, a large-scale oil compressor about 20 feet wide and 40 feet long, indicated that its final destination might be Mexico, which was confirmed after speaking with UE Compression, a Henderson, Colorado-based manufacturer of industrial compressors.
“We don’t make those decisions; the state and [California Highway Patrol] does," UE’s Randy Crapsey told the Reader about the route the truck was traveling when it broke down.
Crapsey said the transport of such large loads is overseen by various state transportation departments, several of which UE and trucking firm KD Specialized of Salina, Kansas, have had involvement with during the weeks-long process of moving the compressor across the Southwestern United States.
UE confirmed that the rig was headed for the Tecate border crossing but declined to comment on its final destination, disclosed only as “somewhere down in Mexico” due to “proprietary information.”
Brailsford and other locals were displeased about the route choice.
“Why did it not go across at Otay and then east on the Tijuana-Tecate toll road?” Brailsford asked. “They built a specific truck-crossing at Otay.”
UE said there had been delays in acquiring an alternate “heavy spec” tractor truck from out of state to continue the journey, and that the CHP had placed additional requirements for having backup equipment on site before resuming the journey to Tecate.
An unnamed employee who originally answered the phone said the new truck should have already arrived, but Crapsey was confident everything would be in place to remove the trailer and its load by Tuesday night.
As of Friday, August 16, however, another effort to move the trailer failed after a move of less than 300 yards, and it was returned to its previous location.
Updated 8/17, 10:15 a.m.