A 320-tire self-propelled modular trailer (SPMT) similar to one once used to transport the space shuttle Endeavour through the streets of Los Angeles has a special assignment in Winnipeg beginning Sunday.
It will be used to haul the first of three massive transformers from a manufacturing plant near Pembina Highway to Manitoba Hydro's Riel Station east of the city.
Each transformer is worth $5 million and weighs 175,000 kilograms when prepared for transport. The first will hit the road Sunday at 8 p.m., departing from the CG Power Systems Canada plant on Rockman Street.
Because of the size of the cargo, the SPMT must take a circuitous route some 144 kilometres long. It will travel at a glacial speed of five km/h, exiting the city via McGillivray Boulevard, rumbling down highways 3, 75 and 59, among other roads, as it winds its way to its destination.
Each of the transformers will take three days -- or, rather, three nights -- to arrive at the Riel station.
The route was designed to avoid tight city streets and narrow overpasses.
"It's probably the biggest single piece of equipment we've had to move," said Hydro spokesman Glenn Schneider.
The objects are being billed as the heaviest ever transported by road in Manitoba.
The transformers are being installed to enhance the reliability of Manitoba Hydro's 500,000-volt line linking the province's grid to Minnesota. The line handles the bulk of the utility's power exports and imports.
When disassembled for shipping, each transformer measures about seven metres tall by four metres wide. However, when fully assembled with bushings, insulators, cooling units and other accessories, to be added on site, each will stand almost 12 metres tall, and measure 9.6 metres across.
The weight of each fully assembled transformer will be almost 295,000 kilograms. By comparison, an empty 747-400 jumbo jet weighs 179,000 kilograms.
The 320-wheeled SPMT allows the tremendous weight of the transformers to be distributed evenly over a large area of road, preventing damage to the concrete and asphalt.
Information on lane closures will be available toll-free at 511, at www.mb511.ca or by following the Twitter account @MBGovRoads.