Making History: Transporting Massive Turbine Runners to Remote British Columbia
- 12 Dolly Dual Lane Trailer
- Custom-Built Truss Tubes and Widening Beams
- Custom-Built Reusable Restraint System
- Jack & Slide System
The biggest hydroelectric infrastructure project to hit British Columbia in the last 100 years is well under way in a remote northern region of the province. When the dam is completed, it will provide 1,100 megawatts of capacity and about 5,100 gigawatt hours of energy each year to the province. This project isn’t only a massive undertaking, it’s also highly historically significant for the region.
In 2018, the site needed to prepare to receive massive turbine runners — the components of the dam that are responsible for converting the force of the water into a rotational force that ultimately drives the generator. However, this would be far from a straightforward or simple task. For one, the runners are immense pieces of equipment. Each load transported would total about 770,000 pounds. For another, the dam site is in such a remote location — near Fort St. John — that getting there would involve countless challenges from terrain, planning, and weather.
Omega Morgan’s Canada-based specialized transportation team was thrilled to be called on to lead the charge in getting the six turbine runners where they needed to go safely, soundly, and on schedule. It was an opportunity to be a part of history — and to deliver excellence for our client on a large scale.
TWO YEARS OF METICULOUS PLANNING
Before wheels could hit the ground for this project, our specialized transportation crew had to work with the province to execute a rigorous planning and permitting process. It was critical to be sure the components would make it safely to their destination — and have the least amount of impact possible on the surrounding communities and environment along the way.
The considerations included:
Navigating remote coastal highways. The roads we needed to take to get to Fort St. John were not made to accommodate a haul of this size or this scale. Our crews had to deal with steep rock walls on one side and a drop off on the other. Many of these highways are single lane and very narrow, so we needed to close down a good portion of them on the first two nights of the haul to traverse the highway. Our crew needed to laser measure rock faces, corners, and roundabouts to be extremely precise about how our dual lane trailers would navigate the route — sometimes down to a matter of inches as we cornered along narrow coastal roadways and entered roundabouts in small towns.
Protecting local communities. Between a long and complex permitting process, careful measuring and modeling, and an extraordinary amount of due diligence, our team worked to ensure the local communities would experience as little impact as possible during the moves. During certain portions of the trip, we had to shut down roads to the motoring public in several remote communities. Along with the province of British Columbia, we strove to make sure these shutdowns would last for as short of a time as possible.
This was accomplished with a traffic management plan, meticulously planned and executed, that utilized multiple extra vehicles, sign boards, media blitzes and local news and media spots. This ensured the motoring public were prevented from entering into our crew’s drive line, and kept at a safe distance as we maneuvered through the small communities and highways along our route in the dark of night.
Weather and terrain. Due to the sheer size of the load, the trips could only happen in the wintertime, when the roads were frozen enough to bear the weight of the load. This meant our crews needed to be prepared for wind, rain, and snow — all over narrow roads and steep terrain.
The planning process took about two years to complete. Once we were ready to roll, then the real fun started.
MOVING COMPONENTS FROM WATER TO LAND
The first order of business was to get the turbine runners off the vessel that came in from Brazil at the Port of Prince Rupert, and onto our equipment. We engaged a partner to assist us; by using a derrick crane barge, the turbine runners were offloaded from the shipping vessel and onto our barge. We traversed further into the inlet until we were able to come up onto shore, and from there, our crews used the 350-foot by 110-foot derrick with a 600-ton ringer crane to discharge the runners to the transport units on shore.
This took a significant amount of engineering and planning to execute, particularly during the significant tidal swings in the area that can range in excess of 26 feet from low to high tide. Timing was critical, and the execution of this move was planned to the minute.
SETTING OFF ON THE FIVE-DAY JOURNEY
Once our specialized transportation team received the cargo, it was a five day, four night trip up to the site near Fort St. John. Everything about this journey needed to be absolutely precise. The equipment and the cargo combined were of massive weight and dimension, and we were traveling through many small, remote communities. Every part of the trip had to be planned to the minute.
The traffic management and safety protocols put in place to protect communities and motorists were meticulous and thorough, as were our contingency plans for inclement weather, breakdowns, or other emergencies. Due to the sheer size and length of trailer configuration, there were very few feasible places to stop each evening; everything was carefully mapped out and precisely timed in order to reach the predetermined stopping points on each of the four nights.
And all throughout the trip, our crews navigated steep inclines and declines, mountains, coastal rain, snow, and narrow roads. We’re happy to report that the turbine runners made it to their destination safely — the work of diligent planning and incredible skill on the part of our specialized transportation team.
TWO DOWN, FOUR TO GO
With two turbine runners safely delivered, our crews will be turning their focus to next winter, when we will make the next round of deliveries as soon as the roads are frozen and able to withstand the load.
Our client has been exceptionally pleased with the service, capabilities, and skillset of our crews, as well as with the way we have managed communication and engagement between the province of British Columbia and local communities.
We’re happy and honored to be making a big impact on one of the biggest developments in hydro power in the last 100 years, and to be a part of history in the making.