Trucks, loads to be 472 feet long and weigh 800 tons
The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) might allow three megaload deliveries of oil field equipment to travel through Moscow, en route to a refinery at Great Falls, Montana.
One vehicle and its equipment load would weigh 1.6 million pounds total and be 472 feet long, 27 feet wide, and 16 feet high, according to a press release sent out by ITD.
State officials aren’t “being fully transparent” about the route or when the cargo is expected to reach certain areas, because they want to avoid controversy, said Helen Yost, an organizer with Wild Idaho Rising Tide, a group based in Moscow.
About a dozen protesters came out to show their displeasure when four smaller megaloads came through Moscow in mid-October, for example.
“And we’re definitely going to protest this time,” Yost said about the planned January deliveries.
Moscow city officials found out about the plan on Tuesday to route the vehicle along Washington Street, as part of its U.S. Highway 95 leg of the trip. Specifically, the route would follow U.S. 95 north from Lewiston – during which time it would come through Moscow – then move on to Interstate 90 at Coeur d’Alene.
The interstate isn’t built for such loads to enter certain spots, so temporary ramps are being constructed.
Traffic control also would affect residents in Coeur d’Alene. The haul would be required to make frequent stops, to accommodate other drivers throughout the trip.
Oversize hauls move very slowly, and this one might even only travel a few miles per hour, said Bill Belknap, Moscow’s development director.
The cargo would exceed the length of some shorter city blocks in Moscow, and it’s at least double the size of other transports that have traveled through the community in the past, thus “substantially larger,” said Les McDonald, the city’s public works director.
He noted that before a permit is issued for the oversized load to move through Idaho, state officials will determine what the hauler, Mammoet USA South, needs, to ensure that the massive cargos aren’t putting too much weight on roads and freeways.
Requiring a large number of wheels and axles to support the cargo allows for the weight to be better distributed and less stressful on roads, he and ITD spokesman Adam Rush explained.
Washington Street is state-controlled, but some of the infrastructure that lies underneath – specifically water, wastewater, and stormwater pipes and related hardware – is owned by the city.
There will be a public meeting 4-7 p.m. Thursday at the ITD District 1 office in Coeur d’Alene. Focus of this event is on the portion of the route that includes creating a temporary on-ramp that would allow enough space for the huge shipment to reach Interstate 90, however.
The cargo hauling is expected to occur only between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., so it wouldn’t affect as many drivers as it would during more common travel times, Rush emphasized.
Much smaller loads were set to travel along scenic U.S. Highway 12 in Idaho this past summer. These plans were stopped after only one transport made the trip, by a lawsuit filed in federal court in Boise by the group Idaho Rivers United and the Nez Perce Tribe.
The first of three loads planned by hauler Omega Morgan for a division of General Electric is slowly traveling across Oregon toward southern Idaho. Protesters and adverse weather have caused delays. The Associated Press reported that 16 protesters were arrested late Monday in John Day, Oregon, after chaining themselves to a car and trailer to slow the Alberta-bound cargo.
Security – because of protesters – also could be another local concern, Police Chief David Duke said.
(By Terri Harber, staff writer, Moscow-Pullman Daily News)
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