Semis pulling oversized loads through local communities late at night have been drawing curious stares from area residents.
Over the past month, the trucks, escorted by two squad cars from the Wisconsin State Patrol, have been hauling wind tower sections from Manitowoc to a 100-tower wind farm in Joice County, Iowa.
The new route, which passes through Fond du Lac, Rosendale, Waupun and Fox Lake, was designated last month by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation after trailers transporting one of the large steel cylinders broke down in Menomonee Falls on May 24 at a tight intersection (Appleton and Main Streets), closing two main highways for more than 12 hours.
Kathleen Nichols, a permit supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, said the towers will be transported along a more northerly route during the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday.
The wind tower sections will continue to move through the area as the wind farm begins its second phase to erect 40 additional wind towers, said Scott Fesenmaier, project manager with ATS Wind Energy Services of Iowa.
Each 250-foot tower is transported in four sections, with two semis hauling two sections per trip. The WisDOT has issued permits for 140 shipments of windmill parts, with trips expected to continue through the summer months.
“The second phase of the wind farm is half finished but there are a many more loads to come,” Fesenmaier said, adding that transporting pieces at night is a bit of a challenge. “No one’s excited about it. The new route adds a few more miles and the nighttime makes it more difficult to see. However, drivers are reporting that it’s a better route.”
Lt. Nick Scorcio Jr. of the District 3 Wisconsin State Patrol Office in Fond du Lac said the night transports benefit both the drivers and the public.
“There’s less traffic at night. You don’t want to be moving with these large loads during peak traffic times in municipal areas especially when you’re negotiating turns,” Scorcio said. “In addition, the Wisconsin State Patrol troopers are on hand for traffic control at intersections.”
Some of the wind tower sections require the largest permit available for oversized loads, Scorcio said. The maximum permit issued for the Iowa-based company includes loads up to 159-feet long, 11-feet wide and 14-feet tall.
“When the DOT issues these permits, they’ve checked out the routes beforehand, making sure the bridges are safe to pass over and under,” Scorcio said.
The WisDOT made the decision to reroute the wind tower sections after the Menomonee Falls Police Department pleaded its case, citing the troublesome intersection.
“It’s not a matter that the tower section broke free and rolled off of the truck,” Fesenmaier said. “A section of the trailer hauling it broke. The large section was fully attached to the trailer at the time of the incident.”
The wind tower sections are being manufactured at Tower Tech in Manitowoc.
By Colleen Kottke
Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers
Filed by the Fond du Lac Reporter
2 July 2007
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