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Utility Pole Transportation: Telephone Poles and More

May 2, 2023
 By Joe Weaver
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Utility Pole Transportation: Telephone Poles and More
Last Modified: November 16, 2023
Learn about utility pole transportation and the haulers used in utility and telephone pole logistics from the industry experts in oversized hauling.

Utility pole transportation brings with it certain issues and complications that aren’t necessarily experienced when hauling standard freight. When hauling utility poles, you’re likely to exceed size and weight restrictions, which will require special permits and specialized equipment. 

Before you attempt utility pole hauling, it’s vital to understand how to load and unload this oversize cargo securely, in addition to what specialized equipment and state permits are necessary to safely and legally transport utility poles. Procedures and permits vary depending on the type of utility poles that make up your payload.

With the utility pole hauling tips and information below, you’ll be well on your way to getting your oversize load of utility poles from point A to point B.

Utility Pole Transportation: Tips from Pole to Pole

Wooden utility poles at an outdoor storage facility.

There’s a lot that goes into utility pole hauling, from the types of poles you may come across, to the methods involved in shipping, loading and unloading, and best practices for the utility pole transportation process.

Types of Utility Poles

Utility poles are classified according to the materials from which they are constructed and their intended purpose. Both of these aspects can impact everything from loading procedures to hauling guidelines and necessary permits. Materials and purposes include:

  • Wood Utility Poles: When properly treated, general wooden utility poles are long-lasting and durable. Sometimes referred to as transmission poles, these large posts are used for everything from electrical cable and fiber optics to streetlights and coaxial cable.
  • Concrete Utility Poles: There are two main types of concrete utility poles: traditional poles used for supporting lines, and concrete pilings, which are utilized in the construction of certain building foundations. Concrete poles are often used to replace wooden poles in areas subject to severe weather. They’re exceptional for marine applications thanks to their superior resistance to corrosive elements. 
  • Aluminum Utility Poles: Rustproof and more malleable than heavier metals, aluminum utility poles are ideal for lightweight applications and for use near bodies of water. They’re commonly used for mounting highway and street lighting, as well as flags and banners.
  • Steel Utility Poles: These poles are prized for their durability when compared to their wooden counterparts. Their natural grounding makes them ideal for transmitting high-voltage electricity, and they can be built taller than comparable wooden utility poles.

Utility Pole Shipping: Equipment and Trailers

The necessary equipment for transportation of utility poles can be broken down into two basic categories: trailers and the equipment used to load & unload them.

Trailers: You have a couple of primary choices when it comes to selecting the right trailer to haul your payload of utility poles.

  • Flatbed Trailer: Hauling utility poles on a flatbed trailer is a viable option, though you may need to obtain special permits depending on the size and weight of your payload. This article will go into securing oversized utility poles further on, but making sure your poles are strapped down securely at the federally mandated intervals and using upright poles to prevent accidental rollout are key elements of transporting utility poles via flatbed.
  • Pole Trailer: Featuring an extendable design that’s perfect for accommodating poles of various lengths, pole trailers are purpose-built for hauling utility poles, particularly wooden designs. These utility pole haulers can be equipped with electric brakes or air brakes.

No matter which trailer you choose, knowing the length of your longest utility pole and the maximum weight capacity of the trailer you intend to use is paramount to a successful haul.

We know oversized hauling. Check out our article detailing the different kinds of trailers used for heavy equipment and oversized loads.

Loading and Unloading Procedures & Equipment

Given the size and weight of utility poles, it’s often necessary to use heavy equipment such as forklifts, tractor cranes, or forest machines to transfer the poles from the loading area to your trailer and to remove them once you’ve reached your destination. This equipment varies depending on the materials from which your poles were constructed.

  • Wood: The easiest, safest, and most convenient way to load and unload your cargo is with the use of a truck-mounted crane. This ensures that the crane operator has a total above-the-trailer view of the payload, making it far easier to load, unload, and manipulate the wooden poles.
  • Steel: A crane equipped with nylon slings is strongly recommended when loading and unloading steel utility poles. This prevents damage to the steel itself and protects the galvanized finish frequently used on this style of pole.
  • Aluminum: Like their steel counterparts, aluminum utility poles are best loaded and unloaded via a crane equipped with nylon straps to ensure they arrive at their destination in optimal condition.
  • Concrete: Safe transport of concrete poles requires the use of a truck equipped with a crane due to the length and weight of the poles itself. Sometimes, concrete utility poles are even constructed on-site to mitigate transportation issues all together. 

While it is possible to load wooden utility poles onto side-loading trailers via a combination of chains, levers, and a come-along, it is difficult to optimize load distribution when using this method. This can create a greater likelihood of load shifting, which is prohibited to ensure the safety of truck drivers and other motorists.

If you need to move a utility pole, you’re going to need a scissor lift to work on it. Our article will show you to move this kind of equipment.

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Best Practices for Securing Oversize Utility Poles

Wooden utility poles being hauled on a flatbed trailer equipped with side posts.

FMCSA regulations are highly specific in terms of defining the expected efficacy of a trailer’s cargo securement system. The following table lays out how many G forces your securing gear is expected to handle.

DecelerationForward Movement 0.8 g
AccelerationRearward Movement0.5 g
AccelerationLateral Movement0.5 g

The regulations governing the necessary amount of tie downs for a given payload are equally strict in order to minimize cargo shift. 

Generally, you’ll need two tie downs within the first 10’ of your cargo’s length, and another tie down for every 10’ afterward. Wooden utility poles that are bound together may follow these general guidelines. Regardless of the pole’s material, the use of a bulkhead or other blocking/bracing gear will add significantly to the security and safety of your cargo.

Securing wooden utility poles is best achieved through a combination of chains and straps. The straps should be 4” wide and, if possible, permanently affixed to the trailer for additional stability and so the driver can find them easily. The same straps are well-suited to concrete and metal utility poles, but you should avoid using chains to secure anything but wood and concrete. 

Required Permits and Regulations for Oversize Loads

Oversize load permits vary from state-to-state in price and the requirements for acquiring one. Circumstances that will likely result in the need for an oversize load or over-dimensional permit include:

  • Weight in excess of 80,000 lbs
  • Cargo length in excess of 53’ 
  • Cargo height in excess of 162”
  • Cargo width of 102” or greater

If you have determined that your cargo exceeds any of these dimensions, you will need to contact the state(s) or province(s) within which you’re hauling to obtain a permit. Among other things, the permit may require you to:

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Reach out to us at (866) 902-2713 or fill in the form and a live agent will be in touch shortly.

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How Much Does it Cost to Move Utility Poles?

Wooden utility poles being hauled via locomotive.

The cost of transporting utility and telephone poles varies based on the dimensions of your payload and the distance it’s traveling. 

You can expect to pay thousands to tens of thousands of dollars to get your utility poles to their destination, a number that can only increase if transportation guidelines aren’t adhered to closely, which can lead to expensive fines, shipment delays, and disappointed customers. 

In most cases, your best bet to get your payload delivered promptly and safely is by working with an expert team that can boast years of experience in the nuances of logistics. That’s where we come in.

Utility Pole Transportation with Heavy Haul and Oversized

We’re here to handle the hard part for you. Contact our experienced team at  (866) 902-2713 or request a quote via our online portal and rest easy in the knowledge that your utility pole transportation needs will be handled with expert care from loading to unloading. Remember: No job is too heavy for Heavy Haul and Oversized.

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