Move of 1,000-foot-long Equipment Draws Crowd

Jun 26, 2010

KNOXVILLE, TENN. — The unusual sight of four "tractor trailer rigs on steroids" creeping down the highway with a giant generator brought out curious onlookers in East Tennessee.

The convoy transporting the equipment was a thousand feet long and weighed 640 tons. The slow-moving procession from Knoxville to St. Paul, Va., was delivering a new steam generator to a coal-powered power plant over the past week.

The convoy averaged 3 mph, with a top speed of about 10 mph, and motorists were warned to expect delays.

"It's actually drawn more spectators than complainers," Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Traci Barrett told The Knoxville News Sentinel. "It's been like a parade with people bringing out their children and lawn chairs."

Tim Fielder of Barnhart Crane and Rigging Co., which is in charge of the transport, said the 803,000-pound generator is being pushed and pulled by four 1,000-horsepower trucks he describes as "tractor-trailer rigs on steroids."

The 170-mile journey began June 19 and was projected to reach the Virginia state line late Friday.

The convoy included electrical crews to raise and lower power lines as the procession neared. Tennessee Department of Transportation inspectors checked roads and bridges for any damage.

The Barnhart company posted a $15 million bond with TDOT.

The convoy followed U.S. 11E to Morristown and then picked up U.S. 25E, turning onto U.S. 58 for the final miles to St. Paul.

Barrett said the rig faced a challenge Tuesday getting off Clinch Mountain.

"We have had some issues with traffic," Barrett said. "Our biggest problems have been where there are no alternate routes."

She said the THP has not issued any citations to impatient motorists. Drivers can't pass because the rig is wide enough to eat up two travel lanes.

Mostly night owls got to glimpse the convoy. To minimize traffic tie-ups, it was only on the road between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., officials said.

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