Water purification equipment bound for a town in the heart of the Canadian oil sands left the Port of Wilma just west of Clarkston at about 10:15 p.m. Monday.
The 236-foot-long megaload edged its way onto Wawawai River Road just west of Red Wolf Bridge. Crew members walked alongside it, appearing to make adjustments to the equipment. White lights, looking almost like holiday decorations, hung on the sides.
It is one of the longest shipments ever to take U.S. Highway 12 across Idaho and was expected to be in Orofino by early this morning. The load is significantly shorter than the 300 feet that the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) initially reported as its length.
In contrast, oil company shipments that previously went on U.S. 12 were 208 and 233 feet long.
This latest cargo, manufactured by Newberg, Oregon-based Harris Thermal, was barged to the Port of Wilma from the Portland area. It is going to an unspecified end user in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, wrote Olga Haley in an email. Haley is an employee of a media relations agency handling publicity for Omega Morgan, the transport company.
The rig will consume two lanes of traffic and isn’t allowed to delay other vehicles on Hghway 12 more than 15 minutes. It is accompanied by a flagging staff, pilot vehicles, a signing crew, and an ambulance, but no law enforcement, according to an email from ITD spokesman Adam Rush in Boise.
“It was determined (that personnel) would provide enough safety and advance notice to other drivers on U.S. 12,” Rush wrote.
Idaho State Police troopers previously accompanied the oil company shipments.
The 20-foot-wide, 22-foot-tall megaload weighs 520,000 pounds and is anticipated to reach Kooskia in its second night of travel, get to milepost 127 – about four miles east of Wilderness Gateway campground – in the third night, and arrive at the Montana border on its fourth night.
Travel is being restricted to between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., when traffic volumes on U.S. 12 “are light,” Rush wrote.
Omega Morgan paid $1,070 for the permit to travel across Idaho, Rush wrote.