CLEARWATER TRIBUNE HOME
JULY 1, 2010
Imperial Oil, ITD plan to move large loads on Highway 12
Opinion 1: Support
By Charlie Pottenger
Before starting I wish to point out that my interests tend to focus on and favor conservation and wise use of all natural resources and economic developments that will benefit continuing economic strength.
Monday Imperial Oil Company
(IOC), a Canadian company in which Exxon-Mobil has a large interest, and the
Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) held meetings in
The structures and equipment
being transported are destined to be installed in a new plant designed to
economically process oil sands at a location 150 miles north of
Locally, the movements of
these large loads will cause some inconvenience. However, the benefits to all of
our country will likely outweigh the sacrifice as increased oil availability
retards rising energy costs. The movement will begin about November 2010 and
extend until completed. There will be an interruption of equipment deliveries to
Imperial Oil has developed a plan in cooperation with the Idaho Transportation Department to meet regulations, assure highway integrity, provide for safety and emergencies, and to minimize travel delays. To be sure there will be inconveniences as these loads will be huge. The largest will be up to 580,000 lbs (290 tons) including the load and transport truck. Load dimensions will range from 16 to 24 feet wide and 14 to 30 feet high, truly large loads. Road damage will be avoided because these special trucks and trailers will have eight tires per axle and many axles so that the maximum weight per inch of tire width will not exceed 500 lbs/in. A standard legal weight tandem trailer and tractor, at 90,000 lb maximum legal weight would have a tire loading of 568 lb/in. ITD will require each load to comply with permit conditions.
The plan, as explained, will strive to move these loads in three stages, with each stage requiring one night to complete. Stage one will leave Lewiston at 10 p.m. and conclude at milepost 73.8 near Kooskia at 5:30 a.m.; Stage 2 will leave Kooskia at 11 p.m. and arrive at milepost 139 at 5:30 a.m.; and Stage 3 will begin at 11 p.m. and terminate at the Montana line at 2:30 a.m. There will be a maximum of two loads per stage per night.
While in transit, IOC will utilize Idaho State Police to escort these loads and assist in providing safety and security for the traveling public. The ITD requires, for these large loads, that traffic delays be limited to 15 minute periods. This will be achieved by utilizing 58 prepared clearing locations which will allow held up traffic to get by before the load resumes travel. Also the late night movements will occur at times of minimum traffic.
Information on all drive ways, side roads, and effective pullouts has been developed to assure that emergency traffic can be accommodated. For example, if the load is moving at a time when an emergency occurs, then the State Patrol escort will advise the Transport Team. If there is no place where the load can clear a lane, then the nearest side road, driveway, or wide spot where the emergency vehicle can wait will be identified and the load will pull by as fast as possible. Talking with those that will be escorting these movements gave me reassurance that emergencies can be effectively handled with minimum delay.
IOC transport team representatives said they have contingency plans for handling mechanical problems with their equipment such as truck or trailer problems. The biggest risk from my perspective would be blockage of the highway from a slide-off which might require special equipment to remove. The likelihood of such an event will be minimal if care is taken to avoid icy conditions. The loads will move at speeds from 10 to 30 mph.
There are many who oppose this large load movement up Highway 12. Apparently they fear possible late-night restrictions on emergency vehicles, environmental disaster, or oppose fossil fuel energy development, oppose large businesses in general or do not want to inconvenience visiting tourists.
I believe only two of these concerns are valid: Possible impediments for emergency access while loads are in transit late at night and potential tourist dissatisfaction. Both of these are minimized by the extreme late night movement when traffic is lighter. The emergency vehicle, whether public or private will be handled as described above and delay should be almost negligible, recognizing that any delay in such cases is regrettable.
As to the fear of environmental disaster, IOC assured me that there will be no hazardous materials transported other than normal fuels and truck related materials.
Personally, I strongly support
this project. Since I regularly drive the Stage 1 stretch from Orofino to
Opinion 2: Opposition
By Borg Hendrickson and Linwood Laughy
Like most Americans, Idahoans
have been watching in dismay as Gulf fishermen’s families lose their livelihoods
to British Petroleum’s oil gusher. Now, after at least two years of
out-of-public-view planning among the Idaho Transportation Department,
While securing $40-45 billion
annual profits, Exxon Mobil hired South Koreans to build 207 mammoth equipment
modules for shipment to
But this is recession-socked
The U.S.12 corridor is
unusually scenic and historical and is a paradise for outdoor recreationists –
beach goers, 4-wheeler riders, hikers, snowmachiners, campers, backcountry
horsemen, cross-country skiers, hunters, fishers, heritage tourists and many
others. For years, the
Instead, very quietly, the
· Thousands of residents and travelers will be sleeping in homes, motels and campgrounds when Big Oil’s bright lights and loud noise roll up the highway. Exxon Mobil alone plans 207 shipments, five nights a week, over a period of about nine months in 2010-2011.
People rushing to Orofino and
· Volunteer emergency personnel who live in the hills surrounding the highway may also be caught in a wait line as they try to reach the fire station or ambulance for quick response, or try to reach a medical emergency, highway accident, or fire.
Local and regular interstate commercial trucks will have a hard time meeting
schedules when they, too, sit in wait lines up to six times per night between
How many tourists are likely
to return for another middle-of-the-night dose of lights and noise? How many
businesses do you know – perhaps your own – that count upon the intrinsic
qualities of the
For years ahead gargantuan corporate shipments will ride the U.S.12 roadbed. Wider than 2 lanes, 3 stories tall, 3/4ths the length of a football field, and weighing half-a-million pounds, the shipments will move at 5-20 mph speeds in 3-night sequences to Lolo Pass. Although weight will be distributed over multiple axles, it seems predictable that damage will accrue to the narrow, winding roadbed designed to accommodate cars, pickups, light trucks, and standard commercial semi-trucks of 60-90 feet and up to about 90,000 pounds. In time, taxpayers will likely pay the repair tab and in effect directly subsidize the giant corporations’ transport projects.
Considering that for miles of roadway there are broken shoulders, no shoulders, weak shoulders, or shoulders mere inches wide, with riverbank and rock faces on either side, it also seems likely that one of Big Oil’s giant loads will tip into the river or damage the roadbed or a bridge to the extent that the highway is blocked for hours, days, or weeks. Oil company plans do not explain how such accidents would be remedied. Like BP, the oil companies aiming to use U.S.12 expect Idahoans to think, “It just won’t happen.”
On June 28, at the City Hall
in Moscow (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) and Red Lion in Lewiston (4-7 p.m.), and on June 29
at City Hall in Kooskia (4-7 p.m.), you can ask questions of Idaho
Transportation Department and Exxon Mobil personnel about their plans for using
U.S.12 as a mega-load truck route. You can also leave written comments or send
email@example.com , or to