Massive Concrete Tower Moves Out
On Final Leg Of Trip To Greene Co.
BY O.J. EARLY
KNOXVILLE -- The soon-to-be-tallest structure in Greene County began its lumbering two-night journey to Midway from an industrial yard here early Monday evening.
The 14-story absorption tower is en route to the US Nitrogen facility that is under construction off Pottertown Road in western Greene County.
The tower weighs in at 330,000 pounds -- 165 tons -- and is 137-feet-long.
The hauling rig carrying it has 96 wheels.
On Monday evening, a slow-moving convoy began transporting the tower at speeds from 8 to 25 mph.
Barnhart Crane and Rigging Company is responsible for towing the massive vessel.
Greeneville-based C&C Millwright Maintenance Co. has worked closely with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) in planning the move, C&C President Jerry Fortner said.
Fortner was in Knox County last night, first at the Forks of the River Industrial Park where the tower was housed, and then as part of the crawling convoy.
"We arrived in Morristown at 12:30 this morning," Fortner said in a telephone interview today. "It went extremely well. There were really no issues."
About a dozen law enforcement officials, including the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Knox County Sheriff's Department, accompanied TDOT and AT&T crews to comprise the convoy.
The group pulled out of the industrial yard just after 7 p.m. Monday.
A few families assembled on National Drive to watch the tower roll by.
Portions of John Sevier Highway were temporarily closed to other traffic.
Sections of Strawperry Plains Pike were also closed temporarily to other traffic as the tower made its way from Knox County along the pike to U.S. 11E and along 11E through Jefferson and Hamblen counties and to a location near Walters State Community College at Morristown, its final stop on Night 1 of the journey.
Combined, the 96-wheeled hauling rig, truck and absorption tower weigh an estimated 256 tons, according to TDOT.
"We couldn't have asked for it to go any smoother," Fortner said this morning.
The convoy will resume at 7 p.m. tonight, with law enforcement officers stationed at intersections to control and monitor traffic.
Today's schedule includes:
* Traffic on the U.S. 25E northbound ramp and eastbound East Morris Blvd. will be delayed in Morristown.
The tower will leave Morristown Industrial Park on East Morris Boulevard, making a left onto Shelby Williams Lane and then a right onto U.S. 11E/SR 34. The convoy will take the entire pavement width of U.S. 11E/SR 34.
* Westbound traffic on U.S. 11E will be temporarily closed as the convoy proceeds to Interstate 81. Police will be stationed at intersections;
*Westbound truck traffic will be stopped and rerouted at the intersections with State Highways 113 and 66 and I-81 as the convoy proceeds eastbound on U.S. 11E/SR 34.
* The convoy will make a left onto I-81 via the southbound off-ramp at Exit 23 and cross the I-81 median. The hauling rig will be able to cross the median because tons of rock have been placed in the median by C&C Millwright.
* Sections of U.S. 11E/SR 34 to I-81 and from I-81 to Midway will be temporarily closed during the move. Law enforcement officers will be stationed at intersections to control traffic and prevent traffic from turning westbound.
* The off-ramp from southbound I-81 and on-ramp to northbound I-81 will be temporarily closed.
* The convoy will continue eastbound on U.S. 11E/SR34 to a right turn onto Pottertown Road. Traffic on eastbound U.S. 11E/SR34 will be delayed.
* The convoy will take the entire pavement width of Pottertown Road. Power lines will be raised along Pottertown Road to accommodate the move.
Law enforcement officers will be stationed at intersections to control traffic and prevent traffic from turning into the path of the convoy.
* The hauling rig will make a left turn into the new US Nitrogen Plant at 471 Pottertown Road, completing the route.
Highway planners estimate it will take the tower up to seven hours to travel the 20-mile route from Morristown to the US Nitrogen plant in Midway.
Once the tower arrives at the US Nitrogen site a 500-ton crane will be used to lift the tower into position, upright. That's scheduled for Thursday.
Months ago, the tower had been shipped by barge from Lake Charles, La. to Knoxville, the nearest point to Greene County it could be brought by water.
For up-to-date travel information, motorists may dial 5-1-1, or follow TDOT on Twitter.