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Eye On Boise

Commissioners from a sixth North Idaho county back megaload shipments

Nez Perce County this week became the sixth northern Idaho county to adopt a resolution in favor of oversize megaload transports; Nez Perce commissioners join the commissioners of Idaho, Clearwater, Lewis, Shoshone and Boundary counties in adopting such resolutions since December. “Our highways were built for commerce,” the Nez Perce county resolution declares.

Doug Mattoon, executive director of the “Valley Vision” economic development agency in Lewiston, said, “Kudos to our Nez Perce County commissioners for recognizing the economic benefits this project brings to our region, and for taking a stand in support of the Port of Lewiston.” Mattoon's comments came in a press release sent out by “Drive Our Economy,” a business group that backs the proposed giant truck shipments of oil equipment bound for the Alberta oil sands, which currently are the subject of a contested case at the Idaho Transportation Department regarding permits. The proposed loads also are the target of a lawsuit in Montana; opponents, including residents and businesses along the route and the Nez Perce Tribe, say they'll harm tourism and the environment.

In the same press release, Alex LaBeau, president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, said, “There's no question public support is building for this particular project, and for allowing commerce in general to proceed on Idaho's roadways.” The new Nez Perce County resolution is entitled, “Resolution Supporting Commerce & Trucking in Nez Perce County.” The counties' resolutions have some differences, with the Shoshone and Boundary resolutions headed, “A Declaration Supporting Trucking in Idaho County,” even though a proposed alternative route for some of the loads that are being cut in half could bring them right through Shoshone County on I-90. Ken Burgess, spokesman for Drive Our Economy, said that came about because Idaho County Commissioner Skip Brandt, who was the first to successfully push such a resolution, encouraged the other counties' commissioners to follow suit; you can read the Nez Perce County resolution here.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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