Montana group battles megaloads

Associated Press | Friday, June 17, 2011 12:00 am

HELENA, Mont. – A group that opposes an oil company’s plans to haul 200 huge loads of oil field equipment through northwestern Montana argues the state didn’t adequately analyze the impact of the megaloads on the state’s bridges.

Zach Porter, with the group All Against the Haul, said two engineers, including the co-chairman of the Missoula-based group, reviewed the bridge analyses performed by departments of transportation in Montana and Idaho. They found Idaho reviewed 14 different truck size and weight configurations while Montana analyzed one.

“This is a serious issue facing Montana,” Porter told the Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee on Wednesday.

Montana Transportation Director Jim Lynch told lawmakers the concerns raised by the group sound similar to those the state already addressed in its environmental assessment of Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil’s plan to move the equipment from Idaho through Montana to an oil sands project in Alberta.

Porter told lawmakers that after seeing the analysis, the Federal Highway Administration asked its Helena office to look into the matter.

The report was emailed to Lynch, Porter said.