ITD awards permit to altered megaloads

Equipment destined for Kearl Oil Sands project in Canada will head north from Lewiston on June 27

By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune | Saturday, June 18, 2011 12:00 am

The first ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil megaload that will use U.S. Highway 95 is scheduled to leave the Port of Lewiston June 27 on its way to a Kearl Oil Sands processing plant in Alberta, Canada.

The Idaho Transportation Department issued a permit Friday for the oversized shipment to travel. The load is 23 feet wide, 208 feet long and 131/2 feet tall.

It will have to meet a number of requirements, such as traveling only between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. and pulling over every 15 minutes to allow traffic to pass. It will be accompanied by two Idaho State Police troopers, two pilot cars and three flagging/signing crews.

Its journey to the Montana border will occur in three segments, at speeds that won’t exceed 30 mph, according to an ITD announcement. It will stop near the Shoshone County line, at milepost 18 on Interstate 90 and at the Idaho/Montana border.

ITD has also granted a permit for a second shipment, but at 14 feet wide, it won’t take up two lanes of traffic and it will be authorized to move during the day.

Only one megaload will be allowed on the route until ITD assesses how well the first shipment goes, according to a news release ITD issued Friday.

“Based on reviews by the department’s traffic and bridge engineers, we believe the modules can be moved safely and with minimal impact on traffic and emergency services,” said Alan Frew in a news release. Frew is the administrator of ITD’s division of motor vehicles.

Before the first Palouse load goes, trees will be trimmed, including 25 on Washington Street between Styner Avenue and A Street, along with an unnamed number between Moscow and Highway 6, which leads into Potlatch.

An Imperial Oil spokesman declined to speculate about the schedule for moving the other 58 shipments his employer is staging at the Port of Lewiston.

U.S. Highway 12 remains the preferred route for those and more than 100 others Imperial Oil is shipping from their Korean manufacturer to Lewiston, said Pius Rolheiser, a spokesman for Imperial Oil in Calgary, Canada.

Imperial Oil originally wanted to use U.S. 12 for all the oversized loads, but switched its plans after opponents successfully delayed the original schedule.

ITD required a contested-case hearing at the prompting of opponents, where they raised questions about issues such as the safety of hauling extra big cargo on U.S. 12. The proceeding finished in May and a recommendation from the hearing officer is anticipated soon.

What Imperial Oil already has in Lewiston could take either route because the shipments were converted from 33 to 60 shipments low enough to make it underneath interstate overpasses.

Pieces of the Kearl Oil Sands processing plant continue to be mobilized all over the Pacific Rim. Some are waiting at the Port of Vancouver and others are midtransport from Korea to the Port of Vancouver, Rolheiser said.

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