The Times West Virginian

March 29, 2013

I-79 accident snarls area traffic

Tractor-trailer was carrying large transformer

By Jonathan Williams
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Traffic throughout Marion County was heavier than usual after an accident on I-79 South closed down one lane for almost 12 hours and sent drivers through town to avoid the snarled interstate traffic.

According to 911 dispatchers, the accident took place around 9:20 a.m. near the 131 mile marker on I-79 South. Marion County Director of Homeland Security Chris McIntire said a tractor-trailer lost its load, which went off and over the hill.

Ordinarily that wouldn’t be a big deal, but this truck was transporting a transformer. Not a toy or a machine atop a power pole, but a 10-foot by 12-foot machine that takes special, heavy-duty equipment to load because of its size.

Emergency responders knew “as soon as we got there,” McIntire said, that this wouldn’t be an easy job. The trailer was specially designed, he said, with 40 or so sets of wheels, hauled behind a second trailer.

When it tipped over the bank, the transformer’s weight really took effect.

“It broke the trailer in three or four places,” he said.

“The guy said he thought it weighed more than 50 tons,” McIntire said. It was definitely too heavy for Marion County personnel to shift.

“That equipment’s just not available anywhere local,” he said.

Officials believe the accident occurred because of a malfunction in the trailer rather than driver error. Some antifreeze was spilled by the vehicle, McIntire said, but the equipment itself was entirely intact.


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