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Massive turbines on the move from Windsor; Transport of windmills may cause traffic trouble

WINDSOR – Only three more months to go.

On Monday, police began escorting trucks wide-loaded with massive wind turbine parts from the Morterm Windsor dock to Port Alma for a future wind farm, after months of painstaking planning to ensure the monstrous pieces could fit through overpasses, down off ramps and under wires.

The trucks will block roads and slow traffic on a daily basis, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.Monday to Friday, for the next three months.

OPP Const. Janet Hayes said they avoided pulling down electrical wires and ramming into overpasses Monday, so the first day went pretty well.

“We heard about this around January or February,” she said. “A lot of planning went into this. The last thing you want is for it to hit an underpass.”

The 44 wind turbines will eventually become Kruger Energy’s $200 million wind farm in Port Alma in Chatham-Kent.

The 80-metre steel turbine towers are shipped in three sections, some weighing 88 metric tonnes. The turbine blades are 45 metres long.

It’s estimated that it will take seven truckloads a day, five days a week to get all the pieces on site.

The first load hit the road at 9 a.m. Monday.

The convoy starts at Morterm’s west-end docks on Maplewood Road and goes onto Sprucewood Road, then Ojibway Parkway. From there, it goes up to Huron Church Road, then to Highway 3 and on to the Port Alma wind turbine construction sites.

The OPP is asking motorists to be alert for the slow moving vehicles, as traffic could get congested on Highway 3.

But Hayes said things went OK on Monday.

“The traffic delays weren’t too bad,” she said. “They were able to drive close to the speed limit.”

Plans for the moving the parts, which arrived at Morterm on six freighters and took days to unload, lasted for months.

Police have a 30-page manual for the process. The company moving the loads had to get permits from the City of Windsor, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and other municipalities. Emergency services were notified.

Underpasses and the height of overhead wires had to be measured. Computer simulations were used to check corner clearances.

Trevor Wilhelm

The Windsor Star

21 April 2008