Other companies look to U.S. 12 for oversized cargo

By Elaine Williams of the Tribune
March 11, 2011
Two more companies have made documented inquiries about using U.S. Highway 12 to haul oversized cargo.

Premay Equipment LTD of Canada asked the Idaho Transportation Department in December about moving evaporator units to a Weyerhaeuser pulp mill in Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada, according to a complaint filed Thursday in federal court by Idaho Rivers United.

Nickel Brothers contacted ITD that same month about taking seven loads from Lewiston to Canada, according to the complaint. In each instance the proposed transports were about 180 feet long, more than 25 feet tall and at least 24 feet wide, weighing in excess of 550,000 pounds, according to the litigation.

ITD has responded to both proposals, according to an e-mail from Adam Rush, a spokesman for ITD. Premay was considering submitting a bid on the Weyerhaeuser project, Rush wrote. “A preliminary review of the proposed trailer configuration showed the trailer would not be allowed on U.S. 12. Premay has made no further contact with the department.”

A similar assessment by ITD of the Nickel Brothers plan found it feasible with “special requirements,” Rush wrote. Nickel Brothers later asked about a southern Idaho route, but has not sought permits for either option.

Premay and Nickel Brothers are the fourth and fifth companies that have asked ITD about using U.S. 12 to transport oversize loads.

ConocoPhillips has already hauled two megaloads through north central Idaho, each one containing a half a drum bound for a Billings, Mont., refinery. The drum halves are making their way across Montana. Two other drum halves of ConocoPhillips are waiting at the Port of Lewiston for the same destination and may leave the week of April 7. The drums were manufactured in Japan.

A test shipment for ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil is scheduled to leave the Port of Lewiston on March 28. The oil company hopes it is the first of 114. The others, so far, have been blocked by actions of opponents. The shipments would haul Korean-made modules for a processing plant in the Kearl Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada.

The Asian goods have been reaching Lewiston by water.

Harvest Energy has met with ITD about using U.S. 12 to take 40 to 60 loads of equipment from the Port of Lewiston to a new oil refinery in Conklin, Alberta, according to the complaint.

Each load needs an ITD permit before it hits the road. The agency requires oversize loads to travel between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. pulling over every 15 minutes to allow traffic to pass.

Other companies have been contacting the Port of Lewiston about the viability of U.S. 12 for oversize shipments, said David Doeringsfeld, manager of the Port of Lewiston.

Doeringsfeld estimates he’s received questions from less than 10 businesses, not counting ConocoPhillips or ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil. Doeringsfeld declined to name them.

Next week Doeringsfeld will visit the Washington, D.C., as part of the annual Pacific Northwest Waterways Association Mission to Washington.

Doeringsfeld will be seeking more than $1 million in federal dollars for a dock expansion that, among other uses, would help the port accommodate megaloads.

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