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Giant windmill tower falls off truck

MENOMONEE FALLS – Just about everything in downtown Menomonee Falls came to a screeching halt Thursday. Corey Williams was shocked at what he was seeing. “I couldn’t believe it. I just wanted to get down and take a look at it,” he said. A giant 55-foot-long section of windmill tower fell off the back of a truck into the middle of a busy intersection just before 10 a.m. Thursday at the intersection of Main St. and Appleton. A truck from Anderson Trucking service out of St. Cloud, Minn., was turning right when its load shifted and became unsecured, falling off the truck. The cargo, a lower-mid section of a windmill tower, weighs about 125,000 lbs. It was headed from Manitowoc, Wis., to Joyce, Iowa. Nancy Dillingham described the scene as “wild.” She said, “This is not something you see every day.” Tina Sapp works at Nino’s Bakery right on Main St. and said she watched it all happen. She said she immediately feared for her own safety. “As soon as it fell, we were like, ‘What if it rolls this way?’ That’s all we kept thinking,” she said. Work crews were able to secure the windmill tower section so it wouldn’t move. They spent most of the day trying to figure out how to get it back on a trailer and on its way to Iowa. Menomonee Falls police originally said the intersection would be closed until 6 p.m. and asked motorists and pedestrians to avoid the area for the rest of the day. However, it took until after 9 p.m. to remove the windmill tower section from the street. The village is now considering an ordinance to ban loads of a certain size from coming through small village streets. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation had begun issuing permits for shipments of windmill parts for a wind farm being developed in northern Iowa. But Menomonee Falls Village Administrator Mark Fitzgerald said he would insist that the state find a different route. “It absolutely has created an impact,” he said, noting the disruption caused Thursday to motorists and downtown businesses. Michael Peck, a spokesman for Gamesa Wind USA, a manufacturer and operator or wind energy systems, said it appeared that the steel cylinder broke loose from the truck because of what he termed a defect in the mechanism intended to hold the cargo in place. He said he was grateful that no one was hurt, and was unsure how his company would respond to Wisconsin’s action temporarily halting shipment of its products. Kathleen Nichols, permit unit supervisor for the state transportation department, said the company was ordered to halt all its windmill shipments. “I think we’ll be able to work it out,” she said. “And if we can’t, we’ll say back to the company, ‘You’ve got to find some other way to Iowa.’ ” Watch Chopper 4 video of the intersection The Associated Press contributed to this story.