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Wind Turbine is Cleared from Tunnel

by Janet Goetze
The Oregonian, August 27, 2005

Crews are expected to move the 80-ton turbine off the ramp today,
blocking I-205 southbound traffic

Salvage crews Friday evening moved an 80-ton wind turbine out of a tunnel linking two of Portland's busiest freeways, but motorists on southbound I-205 this morning may still find a major traffic snarl.

Traffic already had been down to a crawl since the Wednesday spill. One lane of traffic had been slowly winding its way through the tunnel, which connects two of the southbound lanes of Interstate 205 to the eastbound lanes of Interstate 84.

Emmert International, the company hired to move the fallen unit, is expected to move turbine off the ramp today, temporarily blocking southbound traffic on I-205, said Dave Thompson, spokesman for Oregon Department of Transportation.

Highway officials must decide whether to escort the load a quarter-mile away to a large grassy area near Rocky Butte, where it can sit until a crane arrives to lift it onto a heavy-duty truck, Thompson said. The other choice is to slowly escort the turbine about 10 miles south on I-205, then east on Oregon 212/224 to 118th Avenue, where Emmert owns property.

The trailer constructed under the heavy device, Thompson said, "doesn't have a normal axle configuration." For that reason, he said, department officials must decide whether it can move the turbine safely on the freeway.

"We'll let safety dictate the decision," Thompson said.

Day Three of the drama played out much like the previous two. Workers placed large chocks of wood, hydraulic jacks and massive steel girders called "needles" beneath the huge, white turbine. The goal was to get the turbine high enough off the ground to slip chunky-tired dollies beneath it, and then slowly rolling it up the tunnel toward daylight and the southbound lanes of I-205.

The $600,000 turbine was being hauled Wednesday afternoon by Pan Western Corp. of North Las Vegas, Nev., to a wind farm in Eastern Washington when a pin failed on the trailer, causing the turbine to lean to one side and flop onto the ground on its left side.

"If it had been in the middle of the roadway, we would not be taking this much time . . . we would have just cut it up into pieces," Thompson said, "It's a pain, but the impact on traffic just hasn't been that great."

About 15,000 cars a day use the ramp, but traffic Friday was heavier than usual because of the Hood to Coast relay.

Early Friday afternoon, traffic was snarled briefly when four huge sections of the wind turbine towers inched their way down I-205 to Northeast Airport Way, bypassing the tunnel.

Janet Goetze
Stuart Tomlinson contributed to this report.
Wind Turbine is Cleared from Tunnel
The Oregonian, August 27, 2005

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