Through severe weather conditions, tight time constraints, intense deadlines, awkward loads, and a new staff, transportation services managed to get everything from one place to another and back again in an effective way. Transportation is an extensive process, components of which are directed by multiple, specialized people to various locations and for various purposes.
The new Burning Man office featured two containers rather than a warehouse. Instead of having a Warehouse Manager, we had an on-call coordinator and driver for the San Francisco-to-Black Rock Station run. Unfortunately, the change from warehouse and manager to simple containers for staging—and no dedicated manager—put stress on the office staff. The overall need for shipping did diminish due to the many containers on the ranch, which hold last year’s inventory for each department, as well as the self-reliance of individuals who used their own resources to get things back and forth. However, the San Francisco-to-Nevada transportation process will improve in 2003.
Another aspect of transportation is obtaining materials and supplies from various locations, coordinated by either the Purchasing Manager or the Run Coordinator, who operate out of the Gerlach office. All the heavy machinery and truck after truck of supplies are delivered to build Black Rock City. Most supply runs are to Reno and back, and the addition of a fleet of rental trucks improved the productivity of the process compared to the past practice of relying on a decaying fleet of ranch trucks. Some failures in the check out and accountability process put stress on the runners and purchasers, but this problem will be resolved for 2003.
In 2001, the “load out” to the playa was performed by a contractor with a shortage of drivers and trucks. This situation was resolved in 2002 by hiring professional semi-truck drivers out of Gerlach. The team lead by Bruno’s grandson Willy accomplished the ranch-to-playa job in record time. The return trip from playa to ranch was hampered by dust storms, but despite this obstacle, the professionals accomplished a Herculean task in excellent time.
After prefabrication at Black Rock Station, items like benches and art pieces, as well as loads of supplies, were transported to the playa. Containers eased the loading trouble for unruly objects like the Man and the spires. Entire loads were containerized, forklifted onto a flatbed, and transported to the playa. On the playa, departments find their stuff by coordinating with the receivers and DPW dispatch at the DPW Depot. Many loads were delivered directly where they were needed on the playa, like the Cauldron and burn platforms that were delivered then filled with wood daily by two crews. During exodus and clean-up, supplies, containers, and itty bits of trash were all transported off of the playa to their appropriate destinations.
Transportation is a fundamental and critical operation provided by the Department of Public Works. We have a limited amount of time to set up and take down the city, and the timing for the load out and back again affects the entire event production process. We plan to “keep on trucking” our successes through to 2003, and we will tweak the rental truck and San Francisco-to-Nevada transportation process.
Ada Lee Chester