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Big GE turbine inches west, disrupting traffic

Big GE turbine inches west, disrupting traffic

A giant GE steam turbine began a slow trek toward Pennsylvania on Friday
Big GE turbine inches west, disrupting traffic
A General Electric turbine moves slowly up Putnam Road in Rotterdam on Friday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

For those who experienced long delays along some major highway routes in Schenectady and Schoharie counties Friday, it was because a giant General Electric turbine generator was moved -- moved at a crawl -- from GE's production facility, heading to a power plant in Pennsylvania.

The company said the 175-ton steam turbine was the largest ever shipped fully assembled from the Schenectady plant, which has made turbines used around the world. State police said they expected the shipment to need more than 10 hours to travel the roughly 40 miles between Schenectady and the Otsego County line west of Sharon Springs, where it was to enter state police Troop C territory and pick up a different police escort.

The routes effected over the course of the move included I-890 near the GE main plant, state Route 7 in Rotterdam, and state Route 20 from Schenectady County through Schoharie County and then further west. The load, being carried on an enormous specialized trailer, was expected to move into Otsego County early in the evening, heading west along Route 20.

State police Troop G spokesman Trooper Mark Cepiel said the load was escorted by a state police commercial vehicle detail, and enough additional troopers to block intersections ahead of the convoy and maintain traffic control in areas where the entire road had to be shut down to accommodate the truck.

The massive turbine is traveling on an oversize trailer that is 350 feet long and 20 feet wide, troopers said. In addition to state police, the trailer is being accompanied by utility crews with bucket trucks to lift wires and move traffic lights to make room for the turbine to pass underneath.

GE pays for the cost of police escorts, permits and fees, though the cost of this transport hasn't been disclosed.

GE customarily doesn't disclose its customers, and the company said only that the turbine's destination was in Pennsylvania. The company announced in late 2015 it would be supplying high-efficiency new-technology turbines to the new Moxie Freedom power plant just outside Scranton, which is scheduled for completion in 2018.

"This unit is the first of its kind to be built in Schenectady and the largest ever to be shipped fully assembled by truck," said GE spokeswoman Christine Horne.

She said the turbine offers a new modular design for improved performance, easier field installation, and a lower cost and faster cycle time for customers.

"We appreciate the support of the New York state police and the Department of Transportation in helping us fulfill our customer's delivery needs," Horne said.

Troopers didn't put out an alert about the potential traffic disruption until Friday morning, shortly before the trip began. Cepiel said the information was released by the Troop G public relations office as soon as practical after it was provided to that office.

The route the trailer covered included I-890 at the GE plant, Route 337 past the ViaPort Rotterdam mall, and Route 7 in Rotterdam. The convoy also used Dunnsville Road and Route 406 to reach  Route 20. Junctions with other highways were closed while the trailer and its escorts pass through, causing lengthy delays on Route 30 in Esperance and Route 10 in Sharon Springs, among other crossing routes. Parts of that route are hilly and winding, but appear to have been used to minimize impact on busier highways.

"It really crawls when it gets to a hill," Cepiel said.

Cepiel said the entire road had to be closed at times. "It will take up the entire roadway," he said.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.


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