LACON — The migration of wind turbine towers from Lacon began more or less as planned Wednesday morning and seemed to go smoothly, officials and observers said.
“It actually worked out better than I anticipated,” said Mayor John Wabel. “I was relieved at how well it went.”
Only half as many trucks as expected were involved, but that had nothing to do with anything that happened in Lacon. It was rather due to some of the semis not making it into town in the first place, Wabel noted.
“There were supposed to be six trucks, three to go out in the morning and three in the afternoon. But only one (of the second group) made it to Lacon (Tuesday) night,” he explained. “Nobody knew where the others went.”
The first truck, which reportedly measured 219 feet from nose to tail, left the riverfront at about 6 a.m. That was about 30 minutes later than planned, a delay that occurred when the semi got hung up in a gate while leaving the grounds of Midwest Foundation, where the tower components had been off-loaded from barges, Wabel said.
But once that problem was solved, it and two other shorter loads – the components of one complete tower – drove to and through downtown Lacon and then headed south on Illinois Route 26. Each truck had an escort vehicle in front and back, and an Illinois State Police car led the first.
The longest semi made a three-point turn onto Route 26 by first backing onto Route 17 at that intersection, while the other two were able to make wide but otherwise ordinary right turns.
The first truck “was easily two-thirds of a block long,” observed Frank Holocker, a professional drone photographer who was there to memorialize the event. “The others were noticeably shorter, I’d say at least 50 feet shorter.”
From start to finish, the whole process took only about 45 minutes to get all three trucks out of town, according to Holocker’s video, he said. That included the time allowed for the light traffic stopped temporarily by Lacon police to pass through between loads.
“I was pleased that it went as fast as it did, and I think it’ll go even faster” as the haulers repeat it, Wabel said.
Of course, traffic will be heavier for a second convoy later in the day, especially on Route 17. But Lacon Police Sgt. Dan Brooks said the combination of trucks gradually going a little faster and police moving traffic through between them should minimize congestion or delays.
“If the afternoons go as smoothly as this morning, it won’t be bad at all,” Brooks said.
From Lacon, the route follows 26 through Spring Bay to East Peoria and the intersection of Route 116, which the trucks then take east to I-55 and Dwight before doubling back on Route 17 to the installation site near the LaSalle – Livingston County line All three reached the site Wednesday, Wabel said.
Assuming the wayward trucks have made it into Lacon, the plan remains to have three move out at around 5:30 a.m. and three more at about 12:30 p.m. each weekday, though the second convoy might shift to an earlier time, Wabel said. With a total of 114 loads, the process is expected to take about a month.
“Eventually they’ll get into a rhythm,” Wabel predicted, “and they’ll do it at 12:30 or at 11 or at whatever time they decide to go.”
Gary L. Smith can be reached at (800) 516-0389 or firstname.lastname@example.org.