Wind power companies have done a lot of damage to roads in Haldimand County.
Each of the 168 wind turbines put up by NextEra, Capital Power and Samsung requires 40 truckloads of cement to anchor the base. Then there are the dump trucks filled with soil and gravel and the cranes and heavy equipment required to move parts of the giant structures around.
Most of this is happening on concession roads, culverts and bridges designed to carry the occasional heavy truck and tractor.
Fortunately for Haldimand taxpayers, the county thought about this before the wind companies went to work. Agreements require the companies to restore Haldimand’s roads to the condition they were in before construction began. Work in this direction has begun in west Haldimand now that the NextEra and Capital Power projects are in place.
“If they’re doing the damage, they know who’s paying for it,” says Jarvis-area Coun. Leroy Bartlett. “That’s the deal.”
Damage has been noted on significant sections of Walpole roads 3 and 4. However, the worst damage by far has occurred on a 14.8-kilometre section of Walpole Road 5.
Walpole Road 5 is a gravel road. It served as the staging area for NextEra and Capital Power construction equipment. There are also a fair number of turbines along this stretch as well as a couple transformer stations.
Walpole Road 5 is the first to be repaired because it was so badly beaten down. Haldimand has hired CRL Campbell Construction of Wainfleet to do the work. The firm is digging new ditches, repairing soft spots, and putting down 30 centimetres of new gravel. Once the road is restored, it will be tarred and chipped for the first time.
“Now is the time to do it,” says Kris Franklin, Haldimand’s manager of green energy infrastructure. “The road base will be in its best condition once it is restored.”
The wind companies are not paying for the paving, at least not directly. The $1.5 million required will come from Haldimand’s Vibrancy Fund, which is a reserve the wind power companies pay into as the county’s share for hosting this infrastructure.
Bartlett says council approved the paving as compensation for the inconvenience Concession 5 residents put up with the past year.
Some county residents have been taken aback by the intensity of turbine construction. Haldimand has a half-load restriction on back roads from the first of March till the end of April. However, the limit has been waived for turbine construction.
Bartlett says that’s been done to end construction as quickly as possible. Everyone knows the affected roads will have to be rebuilt so there’s no use in prolonging the disruption.
“May as well get them in and get them out,” Bartlett said. “The construction is going to happen anyway.”
The road work will last into 2015. Haldimand County is fielding reports from residents who believe turbine construction has damaged roads in their neighbourhood. As well, the 67-turbine Samsung project is underway in the central-east portion of the county.
Betty Ortt of Jarvis, spokesperson for Wind Concerns Haldimand, has heard reports of road damage related to the Samsung work.
“It’s really messing up the roads down there,” Ortt said, adding she’s concerned that all this turbine work will shorten the life of Haldimand’s old bridges. Even basic bridges on back roads can cost more than $1 million to repair.
Anyone wishing to report road, bridge and drainage damage can do so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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