MAY 13, 2010

Oil company offers chance for public input on Hwy 12 oversized loads

   Imperial Oil/Exxon Mobil Corp. will conduct an open house in early June in Orofino to answer questions about 200 oversized loads that may be taken on U.S. Hwy 12 from Lewiston to Montana.

   The details of the meetings will be announced later according to representatives of the company.

   Meetings will also be held in Kamiah, Kooskia and Lewiston.

   Imperial Oil/Exxon Mobil Corp. wants to take processing equipment made in South Korea and barged to the Port of Lewiston to the Kearl oil sands project in Alberta, Canada.

   The moves, which would consume two lanes of Hwy 12, would occur at night on weekdays during a one-year window. They would start in November and possibly extend into December before being halted for most of the winter months because of a 14 week closure starting in December of the barging route between Portland and Lewiston.

   The closure is to allow rehabilitation of locks at The Dalles, John Day and Lower Monumental dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers. The hauling would resume as soon as the locks reopened.

   The company must secure approval from Idaho and Montana before final details can be made. As it awaits those decision it’s studying the proposed route in a variety of ways, said Harry Lillo of Imperial Oil/Exxon Mobil.

   Its drivers have covered the highway, deciding what speeds and gears they would use on each section to be sure they can make it from one pullout to another with the 15 minutes of travel they’re allowed before they have to let any vehicles behind or in front of them pass. The speeds will range anywhere from five mph heading up and down mountain passes to 30 mph on flat stretches.

   Tests have been done around tight corners to be sure the trucks, which will have 100 sets of wheels, will be able to maneuver around them.

   The company has coordinated with the Idaho State Police so the drivers can be alerted if fire trucks of ambulances need to pass, Lillo said.

   Other precautions are being taken to make the trips as safe as possible.

   The company will update a website for the public during the moves where it will have a schedule posted.