A 75-ton oil-pipe bridge that looked more like a giant erector set began to take shape Wednesday, after a slow-moving highway crew placed equipment outside the ConocoPhillips refinery.
The bridge will span Illinois Route 111 and carry the sandy Canada crude oil that is central to the multi-billion-dollar refinery expansion project.
It took crews approximately two hours to move the first of two sections of bridge modules into place, traveling from a Mississippi River terminal south of Hartford to near the main gate of the refinery. The second section was scheduled to be moved Thursday starting at 9 a.m.
The first piece of heavy equipment arrived by 11 a.m. Wednesday. It is needed for the expansion of the WRB Refining LLC, Wood River Refinery, which is jointly owned by ConocoPhillips and EnCana.
"Everything went really smooth," said Keesha Dhaene, spokeswoman for ConocoPhillips.
A company from Houston, Texas -- Fagioli PSC, U.S.A.- that specializes in heavy hauling moved the equipment. Dhaene said that they used a self-propelled modular transporter to move the 172.5-foot-long, 22.5-feet-wide and 14-feet-high section of steel from the Mississippi River to Roxana.
Crews guided the transporter with a hand-held unit similar to that of a remote control vehicle.
The movers traveled north along Illinois Route 3, turned east onto the new Robbins Road extension and north onto Route 111 before stopping in the center median in front of the main gate where work had already started for the addition of a second pipe bridge.
Once the unit arrived, steelworkers got busy unloading the equipment and readying it for installation.
Dhaene said approximately 200 heavy hauls will be done from now until February, with the size of the loads depending on the apparatus being hauled.
All future hauls will follow a different path, traveling south on Route 111 upon exiting Robbins Road, then going east on Wagon Wheel Road and north on Hedge Road and into the back of the plant. The hauls will travel an approximate six-mile destination at around 2 or 3 mph.
Signage will be in place on major roads alerting drivers of upcoming closures and detours.
Because the moves require road shutdowns, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police, Hartford, South Roxana and Roxana police are involved with helping control traffic and supervising the moves.
The $2 billion expansion is projected to create up to 3,000 temporary construction jobs during the project, which will add more refining equipment to the 2,200-acre site.
When the project is completed around 2015, the refinery will boost its production of oil from some 306,000 barrels a day to about 400,000 barrels, in addition to producing natural gas and sulfur-rich coke, which is used as an energy source in power plants
Copyright (c) 2009, The Telegraph, Alton, Ill. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.