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Espee Road takes a beating

Trucks involved in Perrin Ranch wind farm construction tear up county road as fast as crews can repair it, county officials say road will be resurfaced by November

WILLIAMS – While contractors working on NextEra’s Perrin Ranch wind project build new roads and infrastructure, one existing road in the area is taking a beating.

Espee Road, the main access to Junipine Estates of Highway 64, is buckling under the weight of trucks hauling rocks to construction areas past the housing development located about 11 miles north of Williams.

Hank Rush, a resident of Junipine Estates, said driving conditions are less than ideal for residents traveling the road.

“They’re tearing up the road,” he said. “They re-patch it and then they tear it up again and re-patch it. I don’t understand why they didn’t go through Perrin Ranch itself instead of using Espee.”

Bill Towler, Coconino County director of community development, said Blattner Energy, the project’s general contractor, is required to repair the county road during and after completion of the project.

“A major stipulation in the conditions and in the public works grading permit is that the road be returned to as good or better shape when they’re done as it was when they started,” Towler said. “Now in the meantime, they are required to repair the road as it is damaged.”

Wes Carnahan, inspector for the Coconino County Department of Public Works, is administering the grading permit. He said potholes are currently being treated with hot asphalt patching.

According to Carnahan, the number of trucks traveling Espee Road was cut in half early last week, down from 12 rock trucks per day to six per day. By press time, rock hauling should be complete.

“There might in the future be a few more rock trucks coming but the rock haul is almost done,” Carnahan said.

Pothole patching will continue until Ready Mix trucks begin traveling Espee Road. Carnahan said at that point, the existing asphalt will be milled.

“We’re going to compact it and go ahead and maintain it with the blade because I feel we can do a lot better job with a blade than we can pot holing,” Carnahan said.

Once the Ready Mix trucks finish traveling the road, Carnahan said Espee Road will be completely rebuilt, likely sometime in November.

After the road is rebuilt, there will be some over size loads hauling wind turbines.

“But, they’re light,” Carnahan said. “They’re long, but they’re light.”

According to Carnahan, Espee Road does no currently meet the county’s standards. Following the heavy truck traffic, Espee will be paved back to the county’s structural inspection.

“We’re getting a little bit better of a road, all in all,” Carnahan said. “I know there are some people out here, there nerves are getting shot and I understand. I do. The contractor is doing the best job they can and I’m overseeing that and making suggestions and they’re doing a good job.”

Officials with NextEra expect to complete the project sometime in 2012.

The project will include 62 wind turbines in all. The turbines will be approximately 262 feet tall from base to the hub at the center of the blades and over 400 feet to blade tip. The turbines will be spread over 20,000 acres with each turbine taking approximately a half-acre per turbine out of service on Perrin Ranch.

A long term Power Purchase Agreement between Arizona Public Service Co. and NextEra was signed July 22.