by Matthew Rice
A Utah wind energy project managed to bring traffic in Granville to a halt Thursday, March 3 as a massive tractor trailer blocked Route 22 for nearly two hours Thursday morning.
The 153-foot rig was hauling two 123-foot wind turbine blades from their point of manufacture in Maine to Utah, officials said.
The crew of drivers and chase vehicles apparently took a wrong turn coming from Route 22A and ended up on Route 22 heading south about 10:15 a.m., police said.
The tractor trailer had a vehicle both in front of and behind it looking for hazards and alerting traffic to the gigantic cargo which resembled the body of a large gray wingless airplane.
Realizing the tractor trailer was headed in the wrong direction the four men involved in moving the cargo three quarters of the way across the United States began to look for options for turning around, officials said.
“They even sent guys down to the (routes 22 and 149) intersection and decided there was no place to turn around,” Granville Police Sergeant David Williams said. “They decided there was too much traffic.”
More than an hour later fire fighters, department of public works employees, fire police and law enforcement blocked the intersection off, allowing the truck to pull into Route 22 southbound and back up into Church Street/Route 149 emerging back into Route 22 heading north.
Fire officials said the group failed to seek the assistance of law enforcement, local officials or the Department of Transportation in the matter. Assessing available options, the group believed they could execute a multiple-point turn using a village street, local officials said.
The driver of the truck, who was not identified, tried to execute a ‘K’ turn by pulling into Mettowee Street and driving forward into the street until he could back the tractor trailer out hoping to back up into Route 22’s northbound lane.
The truck became stuck when the trailer’s wheel system stopped working leaving the vehicle stretched across the highway from the western shoulder of Route 22 onto the Mettowee Street Bridge. Within minutes a long line of vehicles were backed up in either direction prompting officials to close part of Route 22, routing traffic through the village.
The tractor trailer was equipped with a powered castor wheel set up in the rear, allowing the driver to move the rear wheels of the trailer independently from the direction of travel of the rest of the trailer, officials said.
When this system stopped working, the trailer’s rear end could no longer move north as the truck inched east, trapping the trailer against a number of village road signs at the entrance to the village bridge.
DPW workers assisted the tractor trailer crew with repairing the castor wheels and the truck was able to complete the turn after fire officials used one of their own vehicles to remove the sign posts from the ground.
Police said the driver had not violated any laws and faced no charges resulting from the incident.
Similar shipments have been coming through the Whitehall area on Route 4 from Vermont without incident.