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What's that rocket-shaped thing on the side of I-540?

Posted December 6, 2011

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— What weighs 150 tons, is more than 125 feet long and sits on the side of Interstate 540 near U.S. Highway 64 in Raleigh?

chemical reactor vessel Photos of the chemical reactor vessel

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol says the rocket-shaped thing, which created a lot of buzz among drivers Tuesday, is a stainless steel pressurized chemical reactor vessel that was being transported from Winterville on Monday when some of the tires on the truck carrying it were flattened.

Jon Yuhas, risk manager for Winterville-based The Roberts Company, said the empty vessel is en route to a chemical plant under construction in Tennessee, but he could not comment on where because of proprietary restrictions.

1-540 rocket-shaped thing What's that rocket-shaped thing on the side of I-540?

The Highway Patrol, which is escorting the truck through North Carolina, says the company has a permit to transport the vessel.

The truck's expected to be back on the road by Wednesday.


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  • Dixiecrat Dec 8, 2011

    I don't know. What is that rocket-shaped thing on I-540?!?

  • TooMuchDrama Dec 7, 2011

    Someone should just do a Public Records Information Request, since obviously NCSHP must be getting paid to have to escort, and then share with us everything they learn.

    BTW - I just do not see this thing making through the highways in the NC mountains......

  • jamesgirl Dec 7, 2011

    OMG! I was so wondering what that thing was. I've only seen at night traveling home on the opposite side of the road, however it still catches your eye b/c it's so big. The first time I saw it at first glance it was looking like cargo from a train, so I was really startled and confused. I'm glad I can now see what it is via picture. Yes they definitely need to move this ASAP.

  • godnessgracious2 Dec 7, 2011

    my guess would be fractional distillation column for coal mass gasification usage... Mike

    You are way off dude. Its going to a secret location in Tennessee. It's obviously for making meth.

  • gabi Dec 7, 2011

    As of about 11pm last night (Tues), they'd managed to move it up onto the 64Business ramp off of 264 altogether and had cops sitting all around it with flashing blue lights. Don't know if it's still there this morning, but dang that thing was BIG.

  • RomneyRyan2012 Dec 7, 2011

    They are here now, and they live among you. Run, flee for your lives! And you thought they'd be round, saucer-shaped things. Beam me up, Scotty! ha ha ha!!! Full power Mr Chekhov -- Yes, Kiptain!!

  • 78overdrive Dec 7, 2011

    Almost ran into that thing last night coming off the ramp. They could have used some flashing lights or something more that itty-bitty cones.

  • mswayze Dec 7, 2011

    my guess would be fractional distillation column for coal mass gasification usage...

  • RomneyRyan2012 Dec 7, 2011

    I passed it this a.m. and it is awesome! It does look like a rocket!!! But it looks like it could use a couple more axles and tires in the middle.

  • fayncmike Dec 7, 2011

    "Something is definitely go on right here in The Triangle! There building the DeathStar in downtown Raleigh and there were Storm Troopers in the Christmas Parade. Hmmmm.....

    You forgot to mention the WMDs and nuclear potential in Cary. Oh wait, that was Iraq.