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Giant transformer begins rolling through Harford

Highway and Road TransportationNuclear PowerMedia IndustryTwitter, Inc.Vulcan Materials Company

A giant transformer has begun its journey Monday night from Havre de Grace to just over the Maryland-Pennsylvania line and its new home at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station.

Exelon Communications Manager Lacey Dean added Tuesday that the transformer passed "safely" over I-95.

As of Tuesday morning, the transformer had crossed I-95 Monday night using a special crossing over the median. To cross I-95, the transformer had to go down the on ramp from Route 155, over the median and up the off-ramp. The bridge on Route 155 over the interstate could not handle the load.

Tje transformer, which was sitting just outside the Aberdeen Test Facility on Route 136 in Churchville, according to a phone hotline provided by Exelon, was expected to start moving again Tuesday around 5 p.m. to cross the Deer Creek Bridge. After it crosses, the transformer was to stop until about 10 p.m. Tuesday when it was to continue toward Broad Creek.

Travel will continue the rest of the week, mainly at night.

The 481,000-pound, 35-foot high by 28-foot wide transformer was first shipped to Philadelphia from Korea, where it was manufactured, before being sent by barge to the quarry on the shore of the Susquehanna River in Havre de Grace, according to Dean. The off-loading took place over the weekend at the Vulcan Materials Quarry, where the transformer was placed on a specially equipped wide flatbed trailer with multiple axles.

This is the fourth time they have transported transformers to Peach Bottom, as part of their effort to replace all six and to have a spare, Dean added.

Bringing through transformers is fairly rare, she said, but does not seem so to Maryland and Pennsylvania residents because they have transported them for the four years.

As this is the third time the team has done the same route, Dean said they did not expect any changes from the provided schedule but also offered a hotline (717-456-4932) for residents to call and check in on the status of the trip. She will update the line periodically throughout the day.

The transportation requires several road closures and adjustments to be made to bridges, but Dean said it is "well thought out and its very well planned."

"It takes a comprehensive effort by all of the agencies involved in Maryland and Pennsylvania," she added.

This is the last transformer to be brought through and is a spare in case something happens to the other replacements, according to Dean, who added that Exelon wanted to be able to quickly bring back power.

"This transformer in particular represents our commitment to the community and providing safe and reliable power," she said.

Area agencies are gearing up for multi-day move of a giant transformer from Havre de Grace in eastern Harford County to the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania.

The transformer convoy moves at approximately 5 mph, escorted by state police, state highway, the transportation authority and Exelon's private contractor, Hake Rigging of Lester, Pa., along sections of Route 155 (Level Road), I-95 (John F. KennedyMemorial Highway), Route 22 (Churchville Road), Route 136 (Priestford/Whiteford Road) and Route 165 (Pylesville Road).

Traffic will be temporarily detoured and/or held to accommodate the move. The transport team will maintain access to homes and businesses on the route as the slow-moving vehicles proceed along the hauling routes. The vehicle will move to a pre-determined, secure staging location each night.

Bridge closures and detours

Because of the extreme weight of the load, SHA engineers determined that the Deer Creek and Broad Creek bridges along Route 136 require temporary additional structural support designed to protect the bridges from damage. The move team must close the bridges to all traffic for two days each to assemble the enhanced support system. SHA will assist the team by detouring traffic along Route 136 during the two-day temporary closures.

The oversized vehicle transport is the last of seven new transformers to be moved from the port at Havre de Grace to Delta. The first transformer move was in July 2009 and three transformers were successfully moved using the same route in 2010. Two more were moved in 2011. Exelon is paying all costs associated with hauling the transformer and is supported by the participating agencies, according to the State Highway Administration.

SHA advises motorists to avoid the hauling route during the move and plan ahead for temporary road and bridge closures and detours. SHA will post periodic updates via Twitter. Citizens can follow SHA on Twitter @MDSHA.

Caravan and bridge closure schedule (all dates and times are approximate):

• 5 a.m. Tuesday, June 26 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 27: The Deer Creek Bridge will be closed to all traffic, with temporary detour routes posted.

• 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 26 to 5 a.m. Wednesday, June 27: Caravan crosses the Deer Creek Bridge in daylight hours, stops until 10 p.m. and proceeds north along Route 136 overnight; The caravan will stop for the night along Route 136 south of the bridge over Broad Creek.

• 6 a.m. Wednesday, June 27 to 5 p.m. Thursday, June 28: The Broad Creek Bridge will be closed to all traffic, with temporary detour routes posted.

• 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 27 to 5 a.m. Thursday, June 28: Caravan crosses the Broad Creek Bridge in daylight hours, stops until 10 p.m. and proceeds north along Route 136 to northbound Route 165 overnight; The caravan will stop along Route 165 just south of the Maryland/Pennsylvania state line.

• 10 p.m. Thursday, June 28 to 5 a.m. Friday, June 29: Caravan leaves Maryland and proceeds within Pennsylvania along Route 74 (Delta Road) to Broad Street Extended to Lay Road, ending the journey at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in Delta, Pa. Detour routes will be in effect in Pennsylvania.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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