The first of seven transformers to be moved through Smyth County made its way from Seven Mile Ford through the intersection of highways 11 and 107 Saturday morning. Four transformers will be moved over four consecutive weekends and then three more later this year.

Appalachian Power workers reported no problems this past weekend with the move of the first of four transformers traveling from Seven Mile Ford to the Broadford substation.

Despite heavy rain on Saturday night, the two-day transport came off without a hitch.

“I have heard of no problems for the move because of the rain,” said John Shepelwich, Appalachian Power spokesperson, on Monday. “All roads, bridges and access points were cleared by VDOT and other local and state oversight agencies for the move. I have had no reports of any hitches along the route Saturday or Sunday.”

This was the first of four planned moves over four consecutive weekends depending on weather and other conditions. The transformers that are sitting on a railroad siding in Seven Mile Ford will each be placed on a large, multi-wheel self-propelled heavy cargo hauler that will move slowly on the roadway with a top speed of about five miles per hour. The total weight of each loaded hauler will be about 500,000 pounds. 

The transport travels along Highway 11 through Chilhowie and makes the turn at the intersection of Highway 107, where it continues toward Saltville, turning onto Highway 91 to Government Plant Road, across a specially built Bailey bridge, then onto the old railway bed, back onto Highway 91 at the town’s industrial park, and on to Broadford. Highway 91 turns into Highway 42 in McCready.

The transports begin at daybreak on a Saturday, stop overnight in Saltville, and continue on Sunday.

These transformers—each roughly the size of a large truck—will be installed later at the two Broadford substations, which are being upgraded to provide reliable and robust power to southern Virginia in the future. Three additional transformers will be transported to the sites later this year.

Local law enforcement personnel from Smyth County Sheriff’s Office and a contracted flagging service will work along the route to provide traffic control and assure safety for the public.

A multi-year project has been under way at the Broadford substations since 2017 to upgrade the facilities to better prepare for future power requirements in the area for the future. Three additional transformers will be transported to the site later this year.

The estimated $100-million Broadford Station Expansion Project is expected to be completed in late 2021.

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