[Vision2020] Mini-Megaloads May Enter Coeur d'Alene

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Thu Jun 9 07:36:51 PDT 2011

Courtesy of today's (June 9, 2011) Spokesman-Review.


Mini-megaloads may enter CdA
Massive cargo would be routed onto I-90

Chelsea Bannach
The Spokesman-Review

After longer-than-expected delays on U.S. Highway 12 and opposition from
area residents, huge oil equipment shipments traveling to Canada could be
cut down in size and sent through Coeur d’Alene, possibly beginning by the
end of the month.

In a presentation to the Coeur d’Alene City Council Tuesday night, an
Idaho Transportation Department official said the proposed loads are a
smaller version of the megaloads that began heading up the snaking, scenic
Highway 12.

According to Terry Harris, executive director of the Kootenai
Environmental Alliance, who attended the meeting, the new, cut-down loads
will be 24 feet wide and 208 feet long and will still take up two
traffic lanes.

Those dimensions didn’t faze everyone Tuesday night.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve seen large loads similar to that go through
here before,” said Councilwoman Deanna Good-lander. “These aren’t the huge
loads that are going through Highway 12.”

Imperial Oil, a Canadian affiliate of ExxonMobil, is cutting the loads
down in height in Lewiston so they can travel on U.S. Highway 95 through
Moscow and Coeur d’Alene, onto Interstate 90, into Montana, and eventually
to Canada.

In Coeur d’Alene, the loads will take a sharp turn from Highway 95 onto
Lincoln Way, and from Lincoln to Interstate 90. The oil equipment was
fabricated in Korea, brought up the Columbia and Snake rivers by barge to
the Port of Lewiston, and is being trucked to an oil sands project in
Alberta. The plan calls for the loads to travel at night.

Harris said among other concerns, he is worried whether the loads’
shipment will go as engineers plan.

“When they sent the megaloads from Lewiston up the Highway 12 corridor
toward Montana, they had a permit so that they wouldn’t block traffic for
more than 15 minutes,” Harris said. “On several occasions, they blocked
traffic for 59 minutes, close to an hour. They knocked out power to a
couple towns. They scraped against a big rock wall trying to make a turn.”

“It was pretty clear they didn’t do their homework for that corridor, and
so now they’re going to try this one, I guess,” he said.

Councilman Mike Kennedy said while he needs to gather more information on
the plan, he has some concerns about what might happen if the loads get
stuck negotiating the tight turns at the height of Coeur d’Alene’s tourism
season and near Kootenai Medical Center. He wants to be sure the city is
prepared for any possible scenario, he said.

“Ninety-five is our north-south lifeline, so there needs to be a serious
look at all of the issues surrounding it,” he said. “I don’t know enough
about their disaster plan, frankly.”

However, he said, “Unfortunately, I don’t think the city has any control
in this process. It’s a state road going to a federal road, so we don’t
have full control over either of those.”

The plan to move the megaloads over Highway 12 was the subject of a
hearing this spring in Boise. A ruling is expected later this month. While
it’s not clear if ITD is preparing Coeur d’Alene for the possibility of
changing the route, in advance of that ruling, Harris and Kennedy got the
impression the new route was a done deal.

The state has not issued permits for the Highway 95 proposal.
Transportation officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Idaho Transportation Department officials said in an April case hearing
that cutting down the loads was expensive and impractical and that Highway
12 was the preferred route.


Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"The Pessimist complains about the wind, the Optimist expects it to change
and the Realist adjusts his sails."

- Author Unknown

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