Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Timmerman Junction 1-7-14

At 10 pm on Tuesday evening, January 7, at the Timmerman Junction of U.S. Highway 20 and Idaho Highway 75, concerned citizens and activists gathered to protest the second Omega Morgan-hauled tar sands megaload traversing the Wood River Valley.  A few nights earlier, on Saturday/Sunday, January 4-5, this in-situ mining equipment on an Emmert trailer entered southwest Idaho near Homedale, after its Port of Umatilla, Oregon launch two weeks earlier.  On Sunday evening, January 5, while the second oversize load snuck through a missed second protest in Marsing, the first transport finally crossed southern Idaho, through a crowd of 100 onlookers in Salmon, Idaho.  But it soon stalled at U.S. Highway 93 milepost 341 north of Gibbonsville, about ten miles below Lost Trail Pass and the state border, awaiting Montana Department of Transportation evaluation of its recently submitted travel plan, an agency-issued transportation permit, and amenable weather forecasts and conditions [1].  On Monday night, January 6, the second shipment traveled from the junction of Idaho Highways 51 and 78, through Hammett, west on Interstate 84 to Exit 95, and through Occupy Boise/Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) protesting and monitoring activities near Mountain Home [2, 3].  It continued through mountainous Elmore County terrain on U.S. Highway 20 to milepost 126, further east than the previous Cat Creek Summit megaload layover spot.

But while a WIRT activist again journeyed from Boise to Hailey, past the slightly smaller 804,000-pound, 349-foot-long, two-lane-wide evaporator core parked in an historical marker pull-out west of Fairfield, the chance of snow threatened to postpone megaload movement and another Timmerman Junction protest.  Blaine County reporters continued to diligently cover the situation, announcing peaceful protests organized by Moscow-based WIRT and staged by local community members [4].  Like the demonstration at the junction early on December 31, participants planned to hold signs and banners denouncing the tar sands production machinery bound for northeast Alberta, Canada.  But, perhaps in reaction to three (soon four) southern Idaho megaload protests in eleven days, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) stated on that Tuesday that the Portland, Oregon-based hauling company would hold the second shipment until the first transport near Montana started moving again [5].  “As of this afternoon, neither shipment will be moving tonight,” ITD spokesperson Adam Rush said.  Such misinformation, declared on the same day that the Idaho State Police started providing megaload location updates on Twitter, may have impacted protest turnout, as a Wood River Valley newspaper in turn said that the second megaload “will likely move through southern Blaine County this week.”

Nonetheless, just a few, strong Sun Valley area organizers greeted the second convoy when it passed through Timmerman Junction at about 11:45 pm on Tuesday, January 7 [6].  They had patiently met to carpool at a grocery store parking lot in Bellevue at 9 pm, and arrived at the state rest area on the southwest corner of the junction at 10 pm that evening.  Over several hours, they saw Idaho State Police cruisers drive rapidly and nervously numerous times through the parking area and nearby intersection and highway maintenance facilities, as increasingly more convoy vehicles began to converge in the area.  Only 15 minutes before the megaload rolled by, one of the activists approached a pilot truck parked by the road.  In response to her questions about the transport’s timing, the female and male, indigenous vehicle occupants said that they were unaware of when the shipment would arrive.  Three chanting, sign-waving women stood their ground when it did, taking a video and witnessing the destructive juggernaut on behalf of everyone who could not participate.  For a while after the overbearing convoy honked and passed, the protesters talked with an observing commercial truck driver, who shared many significant insights and sympathies.

A stark instance of insidious, corporate tyranny, this industrial parade rushed on through 20 miles of Craters of the Moon National Monument, within its 10 pm to 6 am travel restrictions that night.  Like its predecessor, it covered over 120 miles to reach the previous layover site of the first megaload, a weigh station near the junction of U.S Highway 20 and Idaho Highway 33, just east of Butte City, Idaho.  It arrived there on Wednesday morning and remained for almost a week, eventually pummeling the Lemhi Valley to almost Salmon on Tuesday/Wednesday, January 14-15.  Although regional media sources continued to report that the second shipment stayed parked near Fairfield for the next few days after the protest, the Idaho Mountain Express corrected its ITD-supplied misinformation on the following day.  It noted that ITD “changed its stance on the movement of a megaload shipment of oil production equipment late Tuesday afternoon… at about 5 pm,…[after] press deadline…[and] extensive discussions between ITD and shipper Omega Morgan” [5, 6].  As a WIRT activist scouted the megaload route and reconvened with Boise allies on Thursday, January 9, on the way back to Moscow to confront even larger Mammoet-carried megaloads, we rejoiced that Wood River Valley residents – the wealthiest, most liberal community in Idaho, which could conceivably harbor conflicts of interest in opposing megaloads – accomplished two demonstrations and is now eager for more hard-core actions.

[1] Follow the Megaload with ISP Tweets (January 7 Times-News)

[2] Update: Megaload Now near Cat Creek Summit; ISP Offers Tracking Help (January 7 Mountain Home News)

[3] Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Mountain Home 1-7-14 (January 8 Wild Idaho Rising Tide)

[4] Second Megaload to Pass through Blaine County (January 8 Idaho Mountain Express)

[5] ITD Changes Stance on Megaload Movement (January 8 Idaho Mountain Express)

[6] Paperwork Stalls Megaloads (January 10 Idaho Mountain Express)

1 thought on “Idaho & Montana Tar Sands Megaload Protests! Timmerman Junction 1-7-14

  1. Pingback: WIRT Newsletter: Megaload Calls to Action on Tuesday in Moscow, Missoula, & Beyond | Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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