Trucks by the hundreds roll through for wind project

About 1,350 oversize loads will creep along local highways through June.

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POMEROY -- The first of approximately 1,350 tractor-trailer oversize/overweight "superloads" began delivering wind turbine components earlier this week.

The propellers, tower sections, nacelles and hubs are destined for Phase I of Puget Sound Energy's Lower Snake River Wind Energy Project.

The loads are originating in Vancouver and Pasco, using travel routes in Washington including 108 miles of U.S. Highway 12 through Walla Walla, Columbia and Garfield counties, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Three pilot cars will accompany each load, and loads are spaced no closer than five miles apart. The loads are currently restricted to daytime travel only.

Each blade, tower section, nacelle and hub makes up a truckload.

Each of the 149 turbines are rated at 2.3 megawatts, compared to the 87 1.8 megawatt turbines on PSE's Hopkins Ridge project in Columbia County.

The turbines are made by Siemen's Energy, headquartered in Florida, PSE's Lower Snake River project manager Jay Takemura said Thursday.

Parts are manufactured in Kansas, Iowa, Korea, China and Denmark. Some of the components were shipped to Pasco by rail, and will be transported from there by truck, Takemura said.

Some of the construction can be viewed from State Route 127 between Dodge Junction and Central Ferry, Takemura said. The large cranes used to put the towers in place can be seen. Construction activity south of U.S. 12 is also visible from the area near Dodge Junction.

About half the turbines will be located south of U.S. 12, Takemura said.

Construction of phase 1 will generate up to 150 temporary jobs and approximately 25 permanent employees.

Drivers should expect congestion and traffic delays due to the low speeds and size of the superloads, according to WSP.

The project is anticipated to last through June.

Carrie Chicken can be reached at cec@innw.net or 522-5289.

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