The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 2, 2007

Turbine haulers spark complaints along Route 219

NORTHERN CAMBRIA — Small towns along Route 219 are complaining about recent “super-load hauling” of windmill pieces from Canada to Somerset County that has stalled traffic and damaged property.

At least two long-haul trucking companies from Quebec have been assisted by Northern Cambria Borough and state police in weaving their way through the area on one of the few highways that lead south from Canada.

The giant rigs have local residents wondering what the trucks are hauling – and why they are being transported on a rural highway such as Route 219.

The ongoing transport of turbine parts began in late October, borough police Chief Kevin Stanek said.

“We had a damaged signal light on Barr Avenue, and another truck on Tuesday actually pulled it down completely,” Stanek said. “We had a state sign at the Philadelphia Avenue intersection get torched and taken down simply because it was in the way.

“The trucks also broke up the sidewalks by Bonatesta’s Tavern.”

Stanek said the rigs are tying up a few officers and seven or eight borough crew members to direct traffic and move cars off the streets.

Jean-Luc Bellemare, owner of Thomas Bellemare Transport Ltd. of Trois-Rivieres, Canada, said his company was contracted by General Electric to move turbine towers from Quebec to Somerset County. He did not identify a specific wind project using the equipment his company was hauling.

“There are different shapes and sizes of trucks being utilized,” Bellemare told The Tribune-Democrat. “The base section of the towers we transported are 165 feet long and 15 feet wide.”

Representatives from another Quebec hauling company, Maltais Transport, did not return phone messages left for comment.

Bellemare said his company moves about 450 tower bases a year all over North America – and has been doing so for at least five years. He said he is unaware of any damages caused by his company.

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