New TCH turnoff will serve Muskrat Falls work at Soldier’s Pond

Daniel MacEachern
Published on June 20, 2014
This sign marks the turnoff from the Trans-Canada Highway near the Muskrat Falls worksite.
— Photo by Gary Grant/TC Media

Nalcor is building a temporary turnoff from the Trans-Canada Highway for infrastructure work at Soldier’s Pond for Muskrat Falls.
Scott Barfoot, spokesman for the provincial department of transportation and works, said the lane will only be used for long vehicles that wouldn’t be able to make a full turn onto an overpass.

Karen O’Neill, a Nalcor spokeswoman, said the trucks using the turn will be transporting loads needed for construction of a station at the end of the Muskrat Falls transmission line, converting direct-current power from the line into alternating-current power, as well as a switchyard that connects the system to the electricity grid and a synchronous condenser facility to maintain system stability.

“Some of the electrical equipment required at this site will be extremely large loads,” wrote O’Neill in an email to The Telegram. “The seven converter transformers, for example, are over 200 tonnes each.”

A median has been constructed between the eastbound and westbound lanes of the highway at Soldier’s Pond, about 30 kilometres southwest of St. John’s, and O’Neill said it will be removed once construction at Soldier’s Pond is finished, expected in 2017. Only large truck traffic required for the project will be allowed to use the turn, said O’Neill. “In the short term, high-visibility construction delineation barrels have been put in place,” she wrote. “This will be replaced with a gate or fencing system that will be opened as required for construction access.”

The construction is being done by H.J. O’Connell as part of the overall contract for preparation of the site at Soldier’s Pond, about a kilometre off the highway. O’Neill said Nalcor couldn’t divulge the value of H.J. O’Connell’s contract, calling it “still commercially sensitive.”

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