Crews close highway to recover log loader

 

December 7, 2017

Darrell Alexander

These photos show crews and cranes that gathered last Wednesday to recover a piece of logging machinery that spilled over the shoulder of SR 4 near Grays River.

On November 14 at 7:30 in the morning, Cathlamet resident Mike Paulsen was driving one of the Jerry DeBriae Logging trucks while towing a 60-ton log shuttle. Just as he crossed the Grays River Bridge and rounded a curve, the trailer hitch broke and caused the log shuttle to careen off the trailer and turn upside down at the bottom of the slope below SR 4.

Crews gathered November 29 to recover the machine.

The 54 year old Paulsen, who was having his birthday during the recovery of the log shuttle, said, "I couldn't brake because all that weight would go on top of me."

He rode it out and was able to get out of the truck unaided although the truck was on its side. He suffered a mild shoulder separation but was able to go back to work. The Wahkiakum Sheriff's Department and the Washington State Police did not issue any citations.

It would not be until the 29th of November before over two dozen workmen from Washington state Department of Transportation (WDOT), Jerry DeBriae Logging, and Ness Campbell Cranes from Seattle arrived to recover the machine. WDOT kept the state highway closed from 8 a.m. until just after 4:00 in the afternoon.

One of the problems that had to be solved before the cranes would even leave Seattle was that there was not enough room for one of the cranes to be placed in the correct safe position. A large backhoe was brought in, and approximately 40 cubic yards of rock and dirt were removed from the side of the hill. The road area where the log shuttle rolled upside down was so damaged that it had to be reinforced before heavy equipment could work on the removal.

Darrell Alexander

Marty Melland and Dylan Arvay are two of four crane operators from Ness Campbell Cranes. They described how it takes two people to operate one crane.

One crane had the capability of lifting 300 tons while the second could lift 250 tons. Both cranes lifted the upside down, 123,000 pound log shuttle to the roadway where they could maneuver it to an upright position.

After this was achieved, the shuttle was placed on a trailer where Paulsen and other DeBriae Logging employees assisted in securing it in place.

After all the equipment left the area, the cleanup began and each side of the road was leveled and three bales of straw were used to cover the damaged slope. The estimated cost of recovering the log shuttle was over $50,000.

 

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