After being stuck behind an illegally-parked convoy on 260th Street west of Corson that stopped to confirm its load of wind turbine pieces was secure for transportation, two area residents shared their concern with the Brandon City Council.
“I’m here because it’s finally gone too far, and I’m trying to send this message I’m super frustrated with,” said Todd Dathe.
Dathe attended the council’s regular meeting Monday, Oct. 16, with Cory Hanson, and showed Brandon Police Chief Dave Kull photo evidence of both street lanes being blocked.
“If you run into that where it’s totally blocked like that, give us a call,” Kull said. “You can call 911 (or) 367-7000, and we’ll send someone out there and address it because that would not be acceptable.”
Staging – making sure the load is secure on the trailer – on the road is legal if traffic can get through.
“The times that I’ve been out there – and I’ve been out there when they’ve been staging on the road –they’ve had a pilot car in the back a little offset, a pilot car out front, and when it was crowded, they’d flag people through,” Kull said.
Although the wind turbines are produced by Marmen Energy, Plant Manager Jim Groninger said the purchaser handles transportation.
“The people who have us build the towers, they hire the trucking companies,” he said. “It’s all third-party handled, so we don’t have any control over what they do or where they do it. Obviously, if they were in violation of any state, city or county code, that would be to the point of law enforcement to enforce whatever they would’ve been doing that would’ve been illegal or unsafe.”
The transportation companies use 260th Street as a staging area to make sure the load hasn’t shifted after making the first turn out of the Marmen Energy lot. Groninger said it is a necessary safety precaution as the loads can travel thousands of miles.
“A 10,000-pound chunk of steel just falling onto the interstate or any road would be devastating,” he said.
Dathe questioned whether the transportation companies have actually been staging during the traffic blockage.
“When they’re digging sandwiches out of their cooler sitting on the back of their tailgate, they’re parked,” he said. “They’re not staging or getting ready to make sure everything’s in alignment.”
Dathe and Hansen suggested staging in the Marmen Energy parking lot. However, Groninger said the lot is full most of the time.
After speaking with a Marmen Energy employee, Kull said wind turbine shipping is scheduled to begin in early November.
Alderman Blaine Jones said the road needs to stay open not only for other motorists but in case of an emergency.
“If they’re blocking that traffic and there’s an emergency on the other side of that traffic, you can’t move one of those in matter of seconds to get an ambulance through or a fire truck through, whatever the case may be,” he said. “If they’re blocking traffic – whether it’s for you or whether it’s for any other reason – it’s unacceptable.”
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