TOWANDA - The hauling of generators and turbines - each weighing over 300 tons - from Towanda Borough to the Panda Liberty power plant in Asylum Township will take place at night, an official from Emmert International announced on Wednesday.

The oversized loads, which are so massive that cars cannot pass by them, will be transported eight miles from a rail yard in Towanda Borough to the site of the power plant, which is currently under construction.

"Typically, we're only allowed to move (this type of equipment) during the day, but they (the state Department of Transportation) gave us an exception ... to move it at night," when there is less traffic, said Gary Wagner, a project manager with Emmert International, at Wednesday's meeting of the Towanda Township supervisors.

The movement of the generators and turbines will result in a "very minimal interruption" for the community, Wagner said.

There will be two turbines and two generators transported from the rail yard to the power plant. A 12-axle, 96-wheel, self-propelled trailer will be used to transport the generators and turbines on local roads. The trailer will make four trips - one for each heavy piece of equipment - from the rail yard to the power plant site.

The trailer will mostly travel at speeds of "probably no more than 5 m.p.h.," but it might be able to reach a speed of 10 m.p.h. on the Merrill Parkway, which is straight, flat, and "wide-open," Wagner has said.

The state Department of Transportation is requiring that, during each of the four trips, a detour be set up around the bridge in Towanda Township that carries Liberty Corners Road over the Towanda Creek.

Wagner explained that, due to the heavy loads that the bridge will have to support, 24 vertical, steel pipes are being temporarily installed underneath the bridge to provide additional support for the bridge's deck. Each time one of the heavy loads passes over the bridge, the bridge will have to be inspected before it can re-opened, he said.

Therefore, it will probably be sometime the following morning before the bridge is re-opened to traffic and the detour lifted, he said.

No other detours will be in effect for the four trips, he said.

The first trip is tentatively scheduled for the night of Tuesday, May 13, he said.

The dates of the other three trips are not known yet, he said.

However, he has said that the final trip would probably take place by the end of June.

The trailer will start operating around 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. and can continue to operate until 4 a.m., he said.

It will take two nights of travel for each load, he said. Between the first and second nights, the trailer and its load will be positioned on a pull-off along Tip Top Road, he said.

After a turbine or generator is loaded onto the trailer at the rail yard, the trailer will travel south on the Merrill Parkway to South Main Street, Wagner said. The trailer will then travel on South Main Street, Liberty Corners Road, Tip Top Road, and state Route 187 to reach the plant site, he said.

"We do have to take down some street lights to get there," including the lights at the intersection of the Merrill Parkway and Elizabeth Street, but the lights will be put back up as soon as the trailer and its escort vehicles pass under it, he said.

The trailer is so wide that no vehicle can pass it. However, motorists can travel behind the trailer and its escort vehicles, albeit at the same slow pace as the trailer, Wagner said.

Workers will close off intersections as the trailer and its escort vehicles pass through them, but the intersections will "open right back up" after the caravan of vehicles has passed through the intersection, he said.

Wagner also announced that a "dry run" of the trip will take place, starting at 9 a.m. today.

During the dry run, the trailer will travel the same eight-mile route, but without a load, he said.

However, during the dry run, the trailer, which is currently located at the site of the power plant, will travel the route in reverse, he said.

The state Department of Transportation will only allow the trailer to travel up to 10 m.p.h. during the dry run, he said.

No roads will be closed during the dry run, which will take "a few hours" to complete, he said.

The generators and turbines cannot be transported on the bridge that carries state Route 187 over the Susquehanna River, because it would exceed the weight capacity of the bridge. However, the bridge will be used for the transport of lighter equipment, which will be offloaded from a spur rail line at Wysox Sand & Gravel on Route 187 and then hauled across the bridge to the plant site, which is also located along Route 187, Wagner said.

The Panda Liberty power plant will supply 829 megawatts of power and meet the power needs of up to 1 million homes.

Emmert International is the Oregon-based company that was hired to transport the equipment.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenwstein@thedailyreview.com.