On a Long Haul

BELLAIRE – A 407,000-pound power generation turbine is expected to make its way from village streets to the Ohio River at Bellaire today, temporarily halting traffic on Ohio 7 along the way.

The massive unit, which is bound for a BP oil platform in the Caspian Sea, traveled across Belmont County via Interstates 70 and 470 on Friday. Dubbed a “superload,” it reached the Ohio Valley Mall after 11 a.m. following a couple of delays due to mechanical problems, including when a hydraulic line on the hauling truck burst and had to be fixed.

About 10 a.m. today, the turbine will be on the move again, according to Bellaire Police Chief Michael Kovalyk.

On Friday evening, the 350-foot trailer hauling the power generator was parked just off the Guernsey Street exit from Ohio 7. A second trailer waited nearby, ready to pull beneath the first trailer so the turbine could be lowered onto it.

Kovalyk said the first trailer would then leave the area, crossing over the highway and heading north on Ohio 7. He noted the second trailer, complete with 130 wheels, would be backed down the southbound on-ramp and moved north in the southbound lanes of Ohio 7 to 53rd Street. At that point, he expected it to cross Ohio 7 through an opening in the concrete median and be backed down on on-ramp from the industrial park that lies along the river.

At Bellaire Harbor, situated near the East Ohio Regional Water Authority’s sewage treatment plant, it will be placed on barges and floated down the Ohio and then the Mississippi River. It is expected to arrive in Baku, Azerbaijan, in four months.

The turbine was made at a Rolls Royce factory in Mount Vernon, Ohio. It is the first of three such units, with two others expected to travel through Belmont County at later dates. The turbines will be operated by BP.

Dozens of local residents turned out Friday to watch as the 203.5-ton load was hauled across Belmont County and to view it while parked in Bellaire. For Kirk Boughner, it was curiosity about how a 407,000-pound machine could be moved. For Debbie Makris, it was an interest in why so many people were standing on Interstate 70 overpasses.

Those reasons and others brought residents out to watch as the turbine made its way toward the Ohio River, traveling at 15-30 mph.

Boughner, a former truck driver who lives in St. Clairsville, stood atop an overpass near the Ohio Valley Mall.

“I used to drive big trucks when I was in my 20s, and I’m out seeing how something that big and heavy can be transported … without hurting the highway,” he said.

Makris, also of St. Clairsville, said “every overpass from Vineyard Road to the mall had people on top watching. I was curious as to what was going on so I called my husband and he told me,” she said.