Megaloads could be allowed to travel scenic Idaho highway

Judge to decide on Rte. 12 case involving Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil this week

News The Spokesman-Review April 26, 2011
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Megaloads still weigh heavily on the minds of some Idahoans, especially when a convoy of them is trekking through their neck of the woods.

Earlier this year, the Idaho state legislature approved a new law requiring a large cash bond to be paid by anyone suing to block a transportation project on Idaho highways. Lawmakers hoped the move would discourage anyone contesting the movement of megaloads.

This week retired Idaho District Judge Duff McKee is hearing from residents on or around U.S. Highway 12 that are objecting to Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil sending more than 200 megaloads of equipment via the scenic highway to the Alberta oil sands project in Canada.

Officials have tried to lessen the effect of the move in Lewiston, where 33 oversize loads were cut down so they could travel on other routes. However, Reymundo Rodriguez, Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) motor carrier services manager, said the reduction strategy would not be practical for the Rte. 12 event, because it could cost in the range of $500,000.

“It doesn’t seem to me practical for them to reduce it,” he said.

ITD also argued that it cannot restrict commercial travel to protect the scenic appeal of the area, the current business environment in the area or to insure uninterrupted sleep of individuals choosing to live in close proximity to the highway.

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