Megaloads Could Go Monday

But Forest Service has yet to give its approval for loads to cross agency land.

Megaloads could begin rolling eastward on U.S. Highway 12 starting Monday, but their fate remains in the legal limbo between state and federal jurisdiction.

The Idaho Transportation Department issued a permit to shipper Omega Morgan on Friday, authorizing the company to begin moving massive water evaporators through Idaho and toward oil fields in Alberta, Canada, starting at 10 pm Monday.  But in an accompanying letter, transportation department administrator Alan Frew advised the company that the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Highway Administration have jurisdiction to review the permit.

“You should contact these federal agencies,” he wrote.

Omega Morgan President and CEO John McCalla sent a letter to Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell on Friday, stating the company plans to embark on Monday on a four-night trip following the highway from Lewiston to the Idaho/Montana state line at Lolo Pass.  But the agency has not given its approval for the loads to cross national forest land between mileposts 74 and 174.

On Friday, Brazell again said he does not support the loads crossing the forest until agency officials have had time to consult with the Nez Perce Tribe, which opposes megaload shipments.  He said the agency will respond to the company’s letter and the response will need to be approved by Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

“Until we consult, we are not approving anything from our end,” he said. Continue reading