Regina Phipps, vehicle size and weight specialist for the Idaho Transportation Department, is the next witness called at the contested case hearing on U.S. Highway 12 megaloads, which is scheduled to run all week and possibly into next week. Among the issues that have been raised so far today are the precedent that the megaloads set, and whether they'll turn the scenic byway into an industrial “high and wide” corridor. Laird Lucas, attorney for the megaload opponents, noted that in addition to the first two megaloads already run across the route by ConocoPhillips and the 200-plus that Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil wants to send - the topic of this hearing - Korean firm Harvest Energy already has contacted ITD about another 60 possible megaloads next year.
“We had a meeting with them, yes,” Phipps told Lucas. “They have not made any formal request for permits at this time.”
When lawyers for ITD objected to references to the possible Harvest Energy megaloads, they were overruled. “They know these are lined up,” Lucas told the hearing officer, retired Idaho District Judge Duff McKee. “Judge, this kind of goes to the core of our case. If ITD isn't going to evaluate what these massive shipments are going to mean for Highway12 as a wild and scenic highway, we've got a real problem, because it is a special place that deserves at least to have honest assessment of what is going to happen up there.”