GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 12, 2012

Giant turbines on the way

Cranes set stage for windmills' Monday arrival

Rockport ironworker Steven Spencer and others with his crew hammered and locked in the last bolts on an 11-story high boom for a 660-ton crawler crane behind Cruiseport Thursday morning.

When upright, the crane – 50-feet long and 20 feet above the ground, with a 170-foot boom — dominated the waterfront skyline, with giant treads resting on steel plates. Including the stacks of counterweights, the apparatus weighs about 1.3 million pounds, and without those steel plates, Spencer said, the crane would rip the pavement apart.

Then again, you need a crane that big to pull parts for a wind turbine off a barge.

Come Monday morning, a barge from Boston will steam into Gloucester Harbor, carrying the tower sections and blades for what will be the largest windmill in the northeast – a 2.5 megawatt monolith on the campus of Varian Semiconductor Associates. The blades stretch 160 feet in length, the tower will stand over 300 feet tall, and the overall structure will rise more than 400 feet above Blackburn Industrial Park, already one of the highest points in the island.

Wilmington-based Baldwin Crane will handle both the offloading and the construction of the Varian turbine. CEO Mark Baldwin, who watched the crane go up on in the early October morning, said they’ll have the turbine built and ready for a test run by Nov. 19.

Getting those parts off the barge will take a while, said Spencer.

“We’ll only be able to unload one side, then they’ll back (the barge) out to deep water and turn it around,” he said.

Baldwin’s crews, however, will take the tower sections and blades up to Great Republic Drive starting on Monday. The last truck leaves Cruiseport on Thursday. The major shipments will run at night, escorted by Gloucester and State police, starting after 6 p.m.

Five of the 14 shipments — the smaller components — will run during the day, and won’t have a police escort. Shipments will run from Cruiseport, east on Main Street, then up the lower part of Eastern Avenue to Route 128. When the trucks hit Route 128, they’ll turn at the Eastern Avenue lights and head up the highway, using the northbound lane before reaching Blackburn Circle. then they’ll turn onto Dory Road, up Blackburn Drive and then onto Great Republic Drive.

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