Imperial Oil awaits megaload clearance

Test module parked on U.S. 12

By Elaine Williams of the Tribune
April 19, 2011

The Idaho Transportation Department is waiting on an incident investigation report and corrective action plan before an Imperial Oil test module hits the road again.

Imperial Oil remains hopeful it will receive clearance soon so its megaload can leave at 11 p.m. today, said Pius Rolheiser, a spokesman for Imperial Oil.

The test module has been parked at milepost 61 five miles west of Kamiah on U.S. Highway 12 since the morning of April 12 when it collided with a support wire of Avista. The incident knocked out power for about 1,300 residents of the Pierce and Weippe areas, according to Avista.

If ITD gives permission for the trip of the test module to resume, it will arrive at milepost 139 early Wednesday morning and then head 71/2 miles into Montana in a second segment of travel that would begin Wednesday night, Rolheiser said.

The oversized load takes up two lanes of traffic and has to pull over every 15 minutes to allow traffic to pass. It is limited to traveling between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. in Idaho.

One question about Imperial Oil’s plans for the test module was answered Monday. The module will be allowed to enter Montana. Missoula County and three environmental groups failed to get a temporary restraining order to prevent the load from entering the state.

The test module is intended to show such shipments can safely take U.S. 12 across Idaho. It is the third largest shipment to travel the narrow road that winds through a river canyon.

Its dimensions and weight, about 490,000 pounds, are equal to the largest of the more than 100 loads Imperial Oil wants to send on U.S. 12. The test module is 24 feet wide and three stories tall. It is almost 250 feet long counting a push and pull truck.

The transports would carry modules of a processing plant that are bound for the Kearl Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada. They’re shipped by water to the Port of Lewiston where they’re loaded onto trailers for the road portion of their journey.

Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.