DERBY – Truckloads of turbine sections, destined for the Lowell ridgeline, will roll through Brighton, Charleston and Derby beginning in July, a new route set by Green Mountain Power.
GMP wants to have its 21 turbines shipped in pieces by rail to Brighton’s train yard and then trucked on Vermont Route 105 to Interstate 91 and then to Route 58 and on to Lowell.
About 100 truckloads would go past Island Pond through downtown Brighton, through East and West Charleston villages and the village of Derby Center before reaching the interstate in Derby, according to GMP.
Originally, the plan was to bring the sections by truck north from Bellows Falls on I-91 to the Orleans exit then through rural Irasburg on Route 58 to Lowell.
But the rail route would eliminate 20,000 miles of trucking on Vermont roads, said GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure. “We are enthusiastic about going by rail.”
And the rail companies are as well, because they will benefit from the publicity, Schnure said Thursday.
The exact schedule of the truckload movements is being determined, she said.
Vermont Agency of Transportation officials are alerting the towns of GMP’s change in plans.
AOT officials gave a map with the new route to the Derby town office, said Bob Kelley, Derby zoning administrator. The distance is 45 miles from Brighton to Lowell, estimated for one truck load to take one hour and three minutes, according to the map.
GMP must submit revised transportation plans for approval to state utility regulators on the Vermont Public Service Board, Schnure said.
GMP intends to speak to select boards in each town on the new route and seek local oversize trucking permits, Schnure said.
Parts of Vermont Route 105, the designated east-west truck route in northern Vermont, becomes a local road in Brighton, for example.
“We are in the process of determining what we will need from towns as we meet with them in the coming weeks,” Schnure said.
GMP will also need a change to a land use permit for the logging yard where the turbine parts and sections will be stored in Brighton until they are trucked out.
“We will have any upgrades completed in time for the shipments,” Schnure said.
GMP officials spoke Tuesday evening to the Brighton Select Board.
“We met with the town of Brighton and are working with them on any local permits we may need. Regardless, we will make sure we are providing the towns with timely and accurate information regarding the transportation of the turbines,” Schnure said.
The turbine sections can only be trucked on weekdays and not on holidays and require an escort.
Other restrictions, such as the time between each truckload, also apply, she said.
As with the Sheffield wind project, the towns on the route would be alerted before the truckloads begin.
After a brief winter hiatus, construction is underway again on the Lowell ridgeline, Schnure said.
About 70 people are at work onsite, ramping up the construction of roads and turbine sites in advance of the arrival of the turbine parts themselves, she said.
More people will be arriving in the next several weeks. The work is ongoing Mondays through Saturdays.
The transmission line upgrades, approved by Vermont Electric Cooperative voters last year, is complete and is online and functioning, Schnure said. The new line and substations were upgraded to handle the electricity from the Lowell wind project.
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