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Second Site C turbine runner coming through city Saturday night

All the details aren't guaranteed but the next turbine runner for the Site C dam will arrive in Prince George on Friday night and pass through the city Saturday night.
turbine runner 5
The convoy carrying a 170-tonne turbine runner sits in a parking lot just outside of Vanderhoof in early January 2020 on its way to the Site C dam. The runner is one of six that will be used in the hydroelectric project. Citizen Photo by James Doyle/Local Journalism Initiative

All the details aren't guaranteed but the next turbine runner for the Site C dam will arrive in Prince George on Friday night and pass through the city Saturday night.

The long slow journey from the Port of Prince Rupert starts tonight and the schedule is planned for the transportation unit to pass through Prince George on Saturday but that only happens if everything goes smoothly. 

The first turbine runner came through town overnight on Jan. 13 on a transportation unit that included one truck pulling the trailer while two other trucks pushed. The transportation unit is 81 metres (265.75 feet) long and weighs 350 tonnes (a whopping 771,618 pounds).

The average speed of the transportation unit is 40 km/h and it slows to 10 km/h for bridge crossings and narrow corners.

Omega Morgan is transporting the turbine runners on the 200 ton Dual Lane Perimeter Deck trailer, with a Tri Drive Tractor pulling and two Tri Drive Tractors pushing. 

The overall length and width of the transport configuration allows for the safe distribution of weight on the roadway. The trailer's 12 dollies and 120 tires the configuration spans across two lanes of the highway make sure the pavement is not overloaded.   

"You could use the analogy of two regular highway tractor trailer units loaded and passing each other on the same portion of the highway at the same time using the two lanes just like we are," Cara Craig, director of sales for Omega Morgan in The Woodlands, Texas, said in a recent email in answer to a request for transportation unit details.

Besides the equipment, it takes a team of qualified people to safely move massive industrial pieces of freight like a turbine runner.

"Our operations team… everyone from the skilled drivers to the pilot car units all work together like a well-oiled machine; at times spending months out on the road together creating an incredible synergy," Craig explained. "They have pre-task toolbox meetings every night before they begin and are constantly in (radio) communication as they travel, calling out speeds, braking pressure, and any of the road changes and conditions to ensure a safe passage. We have tenured, highly skilled drivers which are needed for these exceptional loads." 

The two trucks pushing the trailer carrying the turbine runner are Kenworth T800 with Cummins ISX 15 gear engines with 52,000 lbs rear end. The truck pulling is a Western Star 4900 CAT 3406 E engine with a Sisu Planetary rear end, Craig added.

The trailer itself is of a unique design to meet the most intensive industrial demands.

"We have spent the last decades working in collaboration with our in-house engineers and the trailer manufactures to continue to push the limits on design," Craig said. "We continue to work on the balance between building a lighter trailer to handle heavier loads as industry demands.  Also one thing we focus on is once the job is done how can we efficiently move the empty trailer back home for its next move."

It takes a team of a dozen people to do the logistics for transporting the gigantic machines and a team of 20 people to do the driving and traffic control en route from the Port of Prince Rupert to the Site C location on the Peace River. From planning to execution, it was a two-year effort to get  to this point.

The gigantic turbine runner is the rotating part of the turbine that pushes water through the turbine into a generator that creates electricity. 

Each turbine runner is eight metres wide (26.25 feet) by five metres (16.4 feet) tall and weighs 170 tonnes (187 tons).

Six turbine runners are needed at Site C.

Voith Hydro, a mechanical engineering company, has the contract to manufacture all six turbine runners in São Paulo, Brazil and the first two have been made and shipped from the Port of Santos, Brazil, to the Port of Prince Rupert and arrived in Prince Rupert during the first week of December.

The next two will arrive late in the spring and the final pair will arrive in the summer.

The crane used to move the turbine runner from the ship to the transportation unit was one that the Port of Prince Rupert has as part of its equipment.

The technique used to remove the turbine runner off the trailer when the first one arrived at Site C Jan. 17, 2021, was a method that included hydraulic jacks and slide method.

"Hydraulic jacks lift the runner allowing beams with sliders - they're like skates - to be inserted underneath it and then hydraulics are used to move it along the slider beams to the desired location," Dave Conway, community relations manager for BC Hydo's Site C project, said.

"The runners will be stored on site until installed in the summer of 2022." 

To get it to its final location inside the turbine a heavy-lift crane on site at Site C, ione of very few in the world that is big enough to move the runner, will be used, Conway added.

To check out photos of Site C click through construction activities to photos and videos at www.sitecproject.com.

Here is the schedule for the transportation of the turbine runner provided by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure:

Drivers can expect to see intermittent delays on these route segments:

* Highway 16 from Prince Rupert to Terrace: Wednesday, Jan. 27, between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

* Highway 16 from Terrace to Topley: Thursday, Jan. 28, between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

* Highway 16 from Topley to Prince George: Friday, Jan. 29, between midnight and 5 a.m.

* Highway 16 from Prince George to Highway 97 at Bear Lake: Saturday, Jan. 30, between midnight and 5 a.m.

* Highway 97 at Bear Lake to Highway 29 at Jackfish Lake Road (north of Chetwynd): Sunday, Jan. 31, between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The above schedule depends on a number of factors, including weather and road conditions.

The route is scheduled during times when traffic volumes are low for the safe and efficient transport of the cargo and to reduce traffic delays for all travellers.

Drivers can check DriveBC.ca for the most up-to-date information about route closures before travel.