Traffic was snarled and onlookers stared as another massive piece of equipment came through Blanco on Friday, January 25. The machine, with its 148-wheeled conveyance and entourage of bucket trucks, pickups, and more, came over the 4th Street bridge and made a right turn at the light. This time, the crews seemed to have a better handle on Blanco’s quirks and they quickly made the turn onto the highway.
City crews cleared the parking area on the north side of the Courthouse grounds in anticipation of the machinery’s trip through town. The spots were cleared, except for a black SUV that was picked up by Anastasi Towing and put down on the south side – onlookers wondered aloud what the owner would think when they returned to find their car moved a block.
Ann Hall was curious about the equipment and made a few calls and sent a few emails. According to Clara Tuma, public information officer with the Lower Colorado River Authority, we were seeing a 200-ton combustion turbine on its way to the Ferguson Replacement Project in Horseshoe Bay.
“LCRA is replacing its Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant,” reads the LCRA web page about the project, ”with a new natural gas-fired power plant that will be one of the most efficient, reliable and environmentally responsible electric generating facilities operating in Texas.”
“This type of power plant combines a gas turbine system and a steam-cycle system to generate electricity,” the page continues. “The combination of the cycles creates a highly efficient power plant that uses about 35 percent less fuel and produces fewer emissions per unit of power produced than traditional gas-fired power plants like the existing Ferguson power plant.”
“The turbine and other large equipment sections arrived in San Marcos by rail,” LCRA reports. “The large equipment, including two combustion turbines, generators, and transformers, will travel about 82 miles from San Marcos, generally along FM 12, FM 32, US Highway 281, and Texas 71. Some of these heavy hauls will take several days to make the trip. More than 30 trips will be needed to deliver large equipment for the new power plant.”
A video about the project is available on www.lcra.org. The new power plant is scheduled to come on line in 2014.
After the turbine turned the corner in front of Blanco National, it moseyed on up US 281. The trip to Johnson City reportedly took 45 minutes, according to a driver stuck behind the vehicles. You can breathe a sigh of relief, however, as that was the last turbine to take the route through Blanco.