Forest Service Brakes on Megaload Request

Proposed 21-foot-wide load would stop traffic, take more than 12 hours, and modify the road or vegetation on U.S. Highway 12

The U.S. Forest Service is advising the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) to steer a pending megaload away from the wild and scenic river corridor along U.S. Highway 12, until the state and federal agency develop formal protocols to deal with massively oversized rigs.

The state is considering an application from the transportation company Omega Morgan to move a 255-foot-long and 21-foot-wide water purification vessel weighing 644,000 pounds from the Port of Lewiston to the Idaho/Montana state line near Lolo Pass via the scenic byway.  The narrow, two-lane highway passes through the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest and travels along the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River and the Lochsa River, which are both part of the National Wild and Scenic River System.

Earlier this year, federal Judge B. Lynn Winmill of Boise ruled the Forest Service has authority to review the state’s approval of megaload shipments that pass through national forest land and in particular those that would affect wild and scenic river corridors.  The agency had argued in court that it lacked such authority.

But the judge didn’t define what a megaload is or say how much authority the agency has over the shipments. Continue reading