Two superload trucks knock out power, Internet, cable in separate Chester accidents

Green Mountain Power crews work at Sylvan Road and Route 103 replacing three poles that were snapped off when wires were hit by an oversized load. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Green Mountain Power crews work at Sylvan Road and Route 103 replacing three poles that were snapped off when wires were hit by an oversized load. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Two “superloads,” being driven from Ohio, brought down fiber-optic lines along Route 103 just north of the Stone Village, and electric, fiber-optic and cable lines on Route 103 South at Sylvan Road, in separate but almost simultaneous accidents late this afternoon.

Superloads are even larger than the common wideloads seen traversing Vermont roadways.

These trucks, bearing pre-fab control buildings headed for Massachusetts, hit the wires around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, knocking out power to about 80 homes as well as telephone, internet and cable service to many more. Chester Fire Department and Vtrans crews directed traffic through the maze of the two situations. Traffic was directed off Route 103 and either up Sylvan Road and Grafton Road, or across Green Mountain Turnpike.

GMP crews across Route 103 from Sylvan Road cut back trees around broken poles that needed replacing.

GMP crews across Route 103 from Sylvan Road cut back trees around broken poles that needed replacing.

Although both trucks were led by pilot vehicles bearing height polls, Jean Hetman of New York, the contracted driver of the chase vehicle in the Stone Village accident, said the wires were “undulating” and allowed the chase front pilot vehicle to go under without realizing the problem. Although the truck cab went under the wires, she said, the load hit the wires on the downside, not only bringing them to the ground, but damaging both front corners of the portable building.

She said the height of the pole and the vehicle is 16 feet. But according to Chester Police Chief Rick Cloud, the permitted height is 13.5 feet while the utility lines are 15 feet above the ground. See Page 22 for allowable truck dimensions.

A flagger sends traffic up Sylvan Road to Grafton Road to go around the repair work. The oversize load can be seen in the distance.

A flagger sends traffic up Sylvan Road to Grafton Road to go around the repair work. The oversize load can be seen in the distance.

According to Hetman, a similar situation happened with the truck at 103 and Sylvan Road. There, the load snapped three utility poles, bringing down a multitude of wires that lay across Route 103 and up Sylvan Road. She added that the trucking company had the proper state permits.

As dusk set in, utility crews from Green Mountain Power were cutting down the broken poles and setting new ones in preparation to replace the wires as cable crews waited by the side of the road. Cloud said Route 103 South was expected to be open by midnight. He also said that any violations will be state issued and the company will have to pay for all the overtime of both private and public personnel as well as the repairs.

The "superload" parked along Route 103 just north of the Stone Village after taking down wires nearby.

The ‘superload’ is parked along Route 103 just north of the Stone Village after taking down wires nearby.

At around 8:30 p.m., Jeff Wallace of Eustis Cable, which was contracted by Vtel to work on the Stone Village problems, said he expected that some services would be restored throughout the night and finished 10:30 Friday morning. He added that other work on the lines could continue through the afternoon.

Contractors beginning a night of work restoring fiber-optic cables along Route 103 North.

Contractors begin a night of work restoring fiber-optic cables along Route 103 North.

By Leah Cunningham, Shawn Cunningham and Cynthia Prairie

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: ChesterFeaturedLatest News

About the Author:

RSSComments (7)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Pete says:

    Seems like the state should look at the qualifications of the pilot cars and they should be responsible.

  2. Brian says:

    Wait until the trucks for the wind turbines come through!

  3. Cynthia Prairie says:

    This is exactly what our followup story from Friday reports. http://www.chestertelegraph.org/2016/07/29/unpermitted-superload-trucks-grounded-in-rockingham/

  4. MJ Miles says:

    It is my understanding that this route was denied a permit and the parent company knew that but sent the trucks anyway. This is based on new information. And the load was overweight and should have had police escort when entering VT. Based on VT regulations for oversized loads. Big screw up.

  5. Ron J. says:

    Yeah, my thoughts too Joe. Also, if the wires are 15 feet there’s no way a 16 foot pole would clear them, I don’t care how “undulating” they are. Someone totally screwed up. At least the trucking company is footing the bill.

  6. Jean Hetman says:

    No sir,

    The trucks were on route as per the state of Vermont. These type of loads don’t get to choose which roads they must travel. The states that the truck travels through determine that.

    The article should have said with the wires moving the pole car did not hit the wires but when the wires came down they caught one edge of the load. As the chase car, I saw the wires moving up and down and the wires coming down. As the chase car I was able to alert the driver immediately and prevent further damage.

    That is the role of a pilot car, as we are known, to help loads move safely down the roadways and when an accident does occur assist in traffic control. At this time I would like to thank the police officer who helped at the scene and the other who helped me flag.

  7. Joe W. says:

    The trucks were from being “driven from Ohio” and were headed to Mass. via Chester? Seems they were taking the scenic route.