Transformer transport trips up traffic

WESTFIELD – Traffic in the city from Union Street all the way to the Montgomery Street area will be affected overnight Thursday when Western Mass Electric Company moves a massive transformer from a Union Street railroad siding to the company’s substation at the end of Oakdale Avenue.
Officer Michael Gamache of the Westfield Police Department Traffic bureau said this morning that that a parking ban will be in force and police will direct traffic around the convoy route during the two mile trip, which is expected to take about two hours starting about 10 p.m.
Gamache said that the electrical equipment , an auto-transformer, will arrive by rail today at a railroad siding on Union Street and a crew will spend the day moving the 190- ton transformer on to a special vehicle for the trip.
Gamache said that the self propelled 10-axle vehicle is no wider than a normal trailer but is longer and will travel “at walking speed” – 1-2 mph – along the route.
He said that the transformer is 17 feet high and said that, although its progress is not expected to be impeded by overhead wires, the G&E will have a crew assigned to the effort to deal with any problems encountered.
Gamache said that when the transport vehicle leaves Union Street about 10 p.m., it will travel to North Elm Street, turn on to Notre Dame Street and then traverse Crown Street to reach Montgomery Street where it will travel to Murray Avenue and thence to its destination at the end of Oakdale Avenue,
He said that, when the trailer leaves Union Street, a crew on Notre Dame Street will start to install a “jumper bridge” on top of the existing bridge “to support the weight of the vehicle and cargo.”
That bridge has been the subject of great interest in the past few years since the “Drugstore Hill” bridge was closed about three years ago due to safety concerns.
It will only take about 45 minutes to install the jumper bridge over the existing bridge, Gamache said, so, by the time the convoy reaches the bridge, it will be ready to carry the weight of the transformer.
He said that, once the trailer and convoy reach Crown Street, the crew will begin to dismantle the jumper bridge and Notre Dame Street will be reopened for traffic.
On-street parking will be banned on Crown Street, Montgomery Street from Crown Street to Murray Avenue, Murray Avenue and Oakdale Avenue from 7 p.m. Thursday until 4 a.m. Friday.
Gamache said that the parking ban will start before the operation begins so that police can enforce the ban and, if necessary, tow any vehicles which impede the effort.
He said that a tow truck will be on hand during the move and said that police will also have officers in position in the area so they can respond to any emergency which may occur without being delayed by the closed Notre Dame Street Bridge.
Fire Chief Mary Regan said at that the Fire Department will position an engine company and an ambulance in the area to protect the public in case of emergency when Notre Dame Street is closed.

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