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Turbine blades make smooth entry on South Shore, but base hits overpass

Motorists and bystanders were treated to quite a sight Monday as the first of just over 100 massive turbine blades were transported from a wharf in Queens County to the home of Nova Scotia’s largest windmill farm.

While delivery of three 17,900-kilogram turbine blades went smoothly on the South Shore, a delivery truck transporting a turbine tower base from Trenton hit an overpass between Truro and Halifax.

Mary-Frances Lynch, community relations manager for South Canoe Wind Farm, said the incident happened at 2:30 p.m. between exits 7 and 8 on Highway 102.

No one was hurt and Lynch said, “Our project team is currently looking in-depth into the cause of the incident.”

The RCMP and Transportation Department were on site into the evening.

Back in Chester Basin, resident Christine Hirtle was impressed as a blade-toting truck made the tight turn from the off-ramp of Highway 103 onto a secondary road.

“They’re really something,” she said as her husband snapped photographs of the 56-metre-long blade on the back of a truck.

Each of the wind farm’s 34 turbines uses three blades.

There were more tight turns ahead for drivers as the trucks made their way along country roads to the 3,000-hectare wind farm site just outside New Ross.

Each truck has a second steering mechanism at the rear. With the driver in the cab steering the front of the truck, a second worker hopped out and walked behind the truck to operate the rear steering mechanism by remote control when required.

“I think they’ve got to be really good drivers,” Hirtle said.

“For me, it’s the second-biggest thing to happen in Chester Basin.”

The first was when her husband Roger got caught in the middle of an armed robbery at the local bank in 2006.

“He came in through the door and I just stood there when everybody dropped down. He said, ‘Down!’ but I never,” Roger Hirtle said.

But when the robber pointed a gun in his face, “I knew it was time to drop.”

William Charles Izzard was sentenced to 11 years in prison for robbing the New Ross Credit Union in Chester Basin twice in eight days in 2006, as well as a Halifax print shop.

Roger Hirtle said he was impressed by the trucks delivering the blades. “It’s a big piece of gear,” he said.

He said he hopes the wind farm is a good thing for the community.

“It’s a very expensive project but it does bring in a lot of work. Is it going to help the consumer any? That’s what I want to know. It’ll be worth it if it helps with the power bills – makes them a bit cheaper.”

It will take 17 weeks to bring all the components to the site. The blades, hubs and nacelles – the housing units on top of the turbine that enclose the generating components – are being trucked from the former Bowater Mersey wharf in Queens County and the turbines are coming from DSTN in Trenton.

Lynch said five trucks a day will deliver components to the site. The blades, hubs and nacelles will be delivered Mondays and Wednesdays and the tower sections will be delivered Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Fridays are left open in case weather interferes with the schedule.

You can track the components through the wind farm’s website.

At the suggestion of a member of the project’s community liaison committee, each truck is equipped with a GPS device. You can click on the truck tracking tool on the website to plan your travel route to either avoid or watch the trucks.

Once operational early next year, the $200-million wind farm will generate enough electricity to power about 32,000 homes.

South Canoe Wind Farm is expected to generate about $600,000 a year in revenue for the Municipality of the District of Chester.