GUILDHALL – Escorting large tractor-trailers from Island Pond to Lowell means extra money for the Essex County Sheriff's Department.
The department is responsible for escorting trucks of Lone Star Transportation, which are hauling the wind tower parts that came into Island Pond by rail. Other law enforcement agencies are escorting trucks that come in from neighboring states.
The trucking company estimates just over 120 trips will be made between Island Pond and Lowell.
Essex County Sheriff Trevor Colby, who could not pinpoint how much revenue his department is receiving, said his department’s contract rate is $50 an hour for escorts. Out of that money, Colby pays his deputies salary and overtime plus fuel. The department also gets reimbursements of about 51 cents a mile.
Colby hopes to generate enough revenue to buy bulletproof vests, because the county doesn’t supply them. Many of the vests the department has have gone beyond their recommended use date. Some deputies purchased their own vests, which cost between $600 and $800 a piece. Colby hopes to buy six to eight vests.
“I feel it’s really important,” said Colby, who noted that many citizens carry guns. Deputies should wear vests every day they’re on patrol. However, the department doesn’t mandate deputies wear the vests.
The department has enough vehicles to provide the transport company with escorts for now.
“I’m shuffling them in and out of garages trying to keep them maintained,” said Colby of his fleet. “We picked up a couple of second hand vehicles we were able to put back on the road.”
Colby said he appreciates drivers' cooperation during the escorts. Drivers, for their safety, who meet blue lights on a wide load escort, need to pull to the right relatively quickly. Some of the trucks, said Colby, are 180 feet long.
“That’s a long truck coming through the corners,” said Colby
He said the drivers of the trucks are stopping at the very sharp corners. The rear wheels of the dollies turn, which helps the trucks make the turns. Drivers hired by the transport company who man separate vehicles then stop to pin and unpin the trailers so they can turn.
The drivers of the trucks, at times, will pull one way or the other to avoid overhead utility lines, although many lines have been raised to meet the needs of the oversized loads.
Colby said there are specific areas along the route where the transport team can pull over to allow traffic to pass but there are times when it is not safe for drivers to pass. Officers are using hand movements to direct motorists.