Late on Thursday morning, August 7, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) received confirmation from a regional journalist that an overlegal load awaiting transport by Bigge Crane and Rigging Company from the Port of Wilma near Clarkston, Washington, to Great Falls, Montana, may move on Sunday evening, August 10, and successive nights afterwards between 10 pm to 6 am. As noted by Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) District 1 business manager Scotty Fellom in Coeur d’Alene, ITD public involvement coordinator Adam Rush in Boise said that ITD is preparing and expects to issue a permit and press release on Friday afternoon, leaving little or no time for public and/or legal recourse during normal business hours.
The bottom hydrocracker section would double or triple production of Alberta tar sands crude oil at the Montana Refining Company in Great Falls, Montana, owned by Calumet Specialty Products Partners. Hauled by several heavy-duty pull and push trucks and interconnected trailers, the entire transport weighs 926,000 pounds and measures 311 feet long, 21 feet wide, and one inch short of 17 feet high, the heaviest and longest load to ever traverse the proposed U.S. Highway 95 and Idaho Highway 200 route in Idaho. According to two sources, one at the Lewiston ITD office, the two larger and wider parts of the hydrocracker left the Port of Wilma via rail about three weeks ago. These circumstances lead observers to believe that this shipment is pushing the limits of critical, rural, publicly owned and funded highway and bridge infrastructure.
As exemplified in four years of Wild Idaho Rising Tide and allied resistance to such new fossil fuel infrastructure transported as “megaloads” across four states, WIRT and other concerned groups and citizens oppose this latest onslaught. In February 2014, we successfully diverted these three loads from Mammoet USA South’s scheme to build a temporary Interstate 90 on-ramp east of Coeur d’Alene, where previous interchange construction had collapsed into Lake Coeur d’Alene, by insisting on full environmental impact statement review of the project. We will continue to monitor, protest, and petition to halt passage of this Bigge-hauled refinery equipment in Lewiston, Moscow, Plummer, Coeur d’Alene, Sandpoint, Hope, and throughout the region, for myriad, justifiable reasons, including the ones outlined here.
1. Public Participation Averted
Although ITD hosted and/or participated in open house and public meetings in Coeur d’Alene in December 2013 and in Moscow in January 2014, ITD has provided no public participation or education opportunities regarding this gargantuan transport proposal, the first to attempt movement on the U.S. Highway 95 and Idaho Highway 200 route. May 30 email messages from the ITD Boise and Coeur d’Alene offices to Bigge Crane and Rigging Company stated that, “They [Bigge/Mammoet] will need some public involvement; also they will need Idaho State Police escort in some areas,” and “You will need to work with Jason [Minzghor of ITD District 1] on setting up public meetings, where you will need Idaho State Police, and on contacting ISP to make arrangements for the move” . According to regional journalists and to ITD public records received by WIRT on July 31, the company and perhaps ITD met with city and county officials and police, but never engaged in announced, open public meetings. Continue reading