Municipalities along the transport route for a wind turbine bound for Union Beach are not yet on board with the transport of 200 tons of components through their borders.
“The concern the council has, and that includes myself, is that Matawan is a historic municipality dating back 325 years. I am not saying the roads are that old, but they are pretty close to it,” Mayor Paul Buccellato said at the Borough Council’s Dec. 19 meeting.
“My concern is that, as you have indicated, the pretty heavy loads. Crossing through or driving down Main Street, we have bridges over waterways that we are concerned about. Under those bridges there are sewer pipes and water pipes.”
Buccellato’s comments followed a presentation by a representative of the Conti Group, the developer that would construct the 386-foot-tall industrial wind turbine at the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority (BRSA) facility in Union Beach.
“[Monmouth County] has issued us a list of requirements, which we are nearing the end of complying with. One of those requirements is to obtain agreements with all the towns we are traveling through,” Eric Millard, project manager for Conti, said at the meeting.
The county is requiring the transporter to receive permission from Union Beach, Keyport, Hazlet, Matawan, Aberdeen and Marlboro, all members of BRSA.
At the meeting, Millard said Marlboro Township and Matawan are the only remaining municipalities that have not yet approved the transport of the turbine parts.
However, officials from these towns said in interviews that their governing bodies have not formally approved the transportation of the 200 tons of components needed to construct the turbine. “We haven’t formally approved anything. That would require reversing the resolution that was passed in 2010 opposing [the construction of the turbine],” Keyport Mayor Robert McLeod said on Dec. 22.
“We got the checklist [of provisions for the turbine transport]. It came back answered, but we haven’t really discussed it since then. We haven’t formally approved it.”
Jonathan Capp, business administrator for Marlboro, said Conti had provided information about the route and public safety considerations.
“All issues concerning equipment of this size are being raised by the town and will be discussed,” Capp said, adding that the council has not approved anything yet.
TheAberdeen Township Council has not made a decision either.
“We have to look to our engineers to make sure it won’t cause trouble with our roads and they need a police escort. There are a couple of things that we have to look at,” Holly Reycraft, township manager said.
“[The council] hasn’t made a decision and we haven’t gotten anything yet from [Conti] to act on it yet.”
Buccellato told Millard on Dec. 19 that Matawan officials are concerned about potential for damage to infrastructure.
Members of the Borough Council passed a resolution Oct. 18 asking Monmouth County officials to certify that the passage and transportation of the turbine parts would not impact or damage roads and dams/bridges in Matawan.
The council has yet to hear back from county officials, Buccellato said.
Millard told officials that Conti has had the analysis conducted.
“We are working with Monmouth County right now, and one of the things that Monmouth County has required us to do is hire a third-party engineer to do a review. There is one bridge around Main Street that we are crossing over,” he said.
“They have performed an analysis … It is currently under review of the county so you should be receiving that letter soon.”
Buccellato remained unconvinced.
“When we receive that letter we will possibly proceed,” he said.
In an October letter from Millard, he told the Matawan Borough Council that the turbine was expected to be transported in February if the towns and county grant approvals.
The state Department of Transportation has already approved the transport from a warehouse in Newark where the components are currently being stored.
Millard told the Matawan Council that the turbine’s tower, hub and generator would travel along Route 79 to Main Street, across Route 34 to lower Main Street and over the railroad tracks at the Aberdeen Matawan Train Station.
From there, the route continues to Route 35, Route 36 before going down Union Avenue, Front Street, Florence Avenue and Ninth Street to the BRSA’s Oak Street headquarters, in Union Beach.
Millard said the three trucks carrying the components would be traveling between 10 and 20 mph between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
“We have to travel through daylight hours for our [DOT] permit,” Millard said.
He said that the height of the tallest load is 16 feet and the widest load is 15 feet 6 inches, with the heaviest component weighing 60 tons.
However, according to a presentation by Conti representatives to the Union Beach Council in June, the midsection of the turbine tower would weigh 62 tons on a truck and the base would weigh 84 tons.
“For the record, I know these pieces are heavy. They are spread over several axles, so when you break it down per axle, they are not as heavy as a concrete truck,” Millard told the council.
“When you look at it that way, you’re not going to do as much damage to the roadway as much as one massive 60-ton piece.”
In a Dec. 2 interview, Monmouth County Engineer Joseph Ettore said even with the turbine broken up over different vehicles, the weight may still be too much for the roads.
“Bridges often have to be specially fitted for the transport of an overweight load, like the turbine parts. The county can take measures to secure a bridge, such as timber or steel dunnage, which would help evenly distribute the load,” Ettore said.
“There are special measures that can be taken for an oversized weight, but there’s also a limit as to how much that bridge can take. Sometimes, even with those special measures, you cannot allow it.”
Members of the Matawan Borough
Council had several concerns.
“You‘re going to get under the catenary [curve of overhanging wires]? You’re going to get under the wire, the catenary wire at the train station?” Buccellato asked.
Millard assured that the components would clear the wires but this prompted more questions.
“Have you transported objects like this, these particular objects?” Councilman Joseph Urbano asked.
Millard replied that Conti does not transport the parts.
“We personally, no. The trucking companies that we hire out, Conti has been in charge of transporting loads that are as heavy or heavier and larger than these wind turbine components but not specifically these turbine components,” he said.
Urbano also asked about plans for a possible break down but Millard said Conti doesn’t foresee this happening.
“You will still be able to have cars passing in either direction but it will block some of the road,” he said.
“We have trucks on hand in Newark. The contractor’s yard is in Newark. In a worst-case scenario, a separate tractor can be brought down in half an hour and switch it out, but that is not something we foresee as an issue.”
Councilwoman Toni Angelini asked if there would be a police escort.
Millard replied there would.
“We are coordinating with the State Police; Monmouth County is required to offer sheriffs and officers and then also each one of the towns is required [to provide] police presence as well. It is going to be a coordinated effort between all three,” he said.
Councilwoman Linda Clifton also had a concern.
“If you’re coming down the road and there are cars parked, are you going to be in the middle of the road? Do you have to take up the whole road?”
Millard said that transporter would coordinate with the police, again referring to talks with individual towns that say they have not yet approved the transport.
“That is what we have done in Keyport and Union Beach. We have talked to both parties. They have helped us to determine the best way,” he said.
Staff writer Jack Murtha contributed to this story.
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