Photo by David Rauzi
In February 2011, onlookers came out to view the ConocoPhillips oversize load – a 600,000-pound coke drum section-- parked at the Kooskia Kiosk pullout on U.S. Highway 12. The section – the first of four planned shipments -- was subsequently transported to an oil refinery in Billings, Mont.
As of Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Public comment is sought on a proposed rule that would regulate non-reducible, oversized shipments on a nearly 100-mile section of U.S. Highway 12.
The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) will hold a Sept. 28 public hearing in Boise on the proposal that would set forth the conditions non-reducible, oversize loads using U.S. 12 would follow, from milepost 75.2 (close to the junction of U.S. 12 and State Highway 13) to milepost 174.4 (the Idaho/Montana state line). Verbal and written comments will be accepted at the hearing in Boise, and at ITD district offices.
Following legal action in 2013, a district court affirmed the U.S. Forest Service had a duty to regulate oversized loads traveling through the Clearwater National Forest. The Forest Service issued written criteria to determine which loads will be subject to Forest Service review.
The proposed rule would apply to shipments that fall under the following criteria:
- exceed 16 feet in width or 150 feet in length,
- require longer than 12 hours to travel through the Wild and Scenic River Corridor and National Forest (U.S. 12, from milepost 75.2 to 174.4),
- require physical modification of the roadway or adjacent vegetation to facilitate passage beyond normal highway maintenance.
Under the proposed rule, shipments that meet those criteria would adhere to regulations that prohibit them from using turnouts designated for recreational vehicles and traveling during hazardous weather conditions, among other requirements.
Non-reducible loads carry cargo that cannot be reduced in size to make a shipment lighter. Examples of non-reducible shipments are heavy equipment or wind turbine blades.
Large and heavy loads have been permitted by ITD along U.S. 12 for years. Public concern heightened starting in 2008 with an Exxon Mobile request to use the route to transport up to 200 shipments to an oil project in Canada, followed by a similar request from Conoco Phillips. Protest focused on the oversized shipments impact to environmental and cultural concerns along the route, followed by legal action brought by Idaho Rivers United and the Nez Perce Tribe.
According to ITD, U.S. 12 is effectively closed to certain oversized loads due to the ruling, and the matter has stalled for more than two years in mediation. To reduce confusion by the public and commercial transporters, ITD proposes adopting Forest Service criteria into its administrative rules.
Comment is being taken from through Friday, Sept. 30. Comments can be e-mailed to Ramon Hobdey-Sanchez at email@example.com, mailed to Idaho Transportation Department, Attn: Ramon Hobdey-Sanchez, P.O. Box 7129, Boise, ID 83707, or submitted over the phone by calling Hobdey-Sanchez at 334-8810.
Additional information is online: http://itd.idaho.gov/rulemaking/US-12.htm.