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Local voice needed in oversize shipments issue

Editorial



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David Rauzi drauzi@idahocountyfreepress.com

The issue has laid dormant for a few years, but the matter of oversized shipments being transported along U.S. Highway 12 has returned to the public sphere. Your comments are sought for a proposed rule to regulate these along a nearly 100-mile stretch of the road.

Legal action in 2013 affirmed the U.S. Forest Service had a duty to regulate these loads, which travel through national forest land. This district court ruling, according to the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), has effectively closed the route to certain oversize loads. To end the deadlock in mediation concerning this, ITD proposes adopting Forest Service criteria into its administrative rules.

Comment deadline is Sept. 30. (For details, check our story in this issue, and you can also go online with ITD for further background: http://itd.idaho.gov/rulemaking/US-12.htm)

Input by Idaho County residents is important within this determination; this is our backyard, and our voice needs – emphasis on “needs” — to be heard in how we’d like to see this public corridor managed.

From the concerns raised during the discussion and protests when significant oil industry equipment shipments were being planned for U.S. 12 back in 2008, we’ll assume several issues are important locally:

• environmental protection, respect for tribal cultural resources and minimal disruption to daily living and traffic needs of communities through this corridor, providing access for emergency vehicles, and also that commercial use is maintained.

Essentially this: Shippers should be able to get their goods and services to and from the market, respecting the local values of people who live along this scenic route; you play fair, and everything’s cool.

Our concern, however, is activists protesting oil production will continue – as we saw here a few years ago — to use this as an obstruction tactic to make it continually difficult, time-consuming and expensive for the industry to do business. U.S. 12 is a means to an end to that goal, which addresses the narrow political agenda of a few and doesn’t respect the real rights and desires of people who live, work and play through this corridor, nor the long-established historic use of the route for both private and commercial transport.

This is your backyard and ours, and a moderate solution backed by local voices can ensure the needs of both protection and commerce are served.



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