A project six or seven months in the making is coming to fruition this week in Wellsville.
Workers at the Columbiana County Port Authority’s Intermodal facility were off-loading a pair of huge ladles for use in steelmaking from a barge docked along the Ohio River.
This all started three months ago when these pieces — weighing 80,000 to 90,000 pounds each — were shipped from China, through the Panama Canal and then up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
Once free of the barge, workers use specially-designed slings made of nylon wrapped in Kevlar fabric to lift the pieces.
The next step takes a lot longer as crews gingerly lower the ladle onto a waiting flatbed, making sure it’s balanced and centered for the ride to the Timken Company plant in Akron.
“This crane right here can lift 120,000 pounds in one lift. That’s 60 tons… The crane actually has a three minute cycle time. From the time you go from the dock to the barge and then come back. It takes about three minutes,” said facility operator Larry Heck.
Although this is one of the largest loads this terminal has handled, traffic here has grown from the days when workers saw just five barges a month.
“With the cracker plant being built in Beaver, Pennsylvania and the PTT commits in Belmont County, we’re geographically blessed to be right in the middle. On the Ohio River,” said Port Authority CEO Penny Traina.
Heck said they started the project in June.