The bottom section of a massive wind turbine bound for Green Mountain Power’s Lowell Mountain project tipped over Thursday, July 19, when it encountered a paving crew on Interstate 91.
The interstate was closed to southbound traffic for about three hours Friday morning while a crane retrieved the long white tube from the ditch and put it on a truck. The load made it to the job site on Route 100 south of Lowell Village just before noon on Friday, according to Phil Brooks, chief deputy of the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department.
The highly specialized tractor-trailer, owned by Lone Star Transportation, was in the passing lane, just north of the Orleans exit, when a left rear tire left the pavement and hit soft ground. Tire marks in the roadside grass indicate that what followed must have been an agonizingly slow catastrophe. The marks moved ever further from the pavement, ever lower down a gentle slope for 500 feet until they came to the trailer, its rear wheels overturned in the ditch. The tractor remained upright.
Speed was not a factor, State Trooper Rajesh Hailey said in his press release, and the driver, Jimmy Maddox of Gainesville, Texas, was not hurt.
Deputy Brooks said a crane was immediately dispatched from Desrochers Crane Service in Derby. It was unable to lift the tower section, but did assist a larger crane that arrived early Friday from Massachusetts, Mr. Brooks said. The interstate was closed at about 8 a.m. to allow space for the big crane to set up. Once that was done, Mr. Brooks said, it took only half an hour to recover the tower section. The highway was reopened at about 11 a.m.
Under the terms of its permit and state law governing overweight loads, Mr. Brooks said, Green Mountain Power’s contractor can use the highways from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset. However, loads must lay over in a “safe haven” between 7 and 8 a.m., noon and 1 p.m., and 4 to 5 p.m., Mr. Brooks said. Thursday’s load had just pulled out of the Coventry rest area when the accident occurred a few miles south, at 5:16 p.m.
Opponents of Green Mountain Power’s project, who held up a truck for about two hours on July 16, may continue to try and block the loads. The Mountain Occupiers, a group that has spearheaded several acts of civil disobedience in opposition to the project, scheduled a “civil disobedience training” in Craftsbury on Tuesday evening, July 24.
In an e-mail announcing the training, the group said: “As our powerful actions blocking the turbine trucks in Lowell showed, our cause can draw crowds, media, support, and even negotiate with the law. We don’t have to be bystanders to the destruction of our state. The time for action is now!”
Two protesters were arrested on July 24 after they stepped in front of a truck just before it turned into the Lowell site. They were cited for disorderly conduct, but released from custody after negotiations with police in which protesters agreed to clear the highway.