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Megaloads could take both Idaho routes

It's possible that giant megaloads of oil equipment bound for the Kearl oil sands development in Canada could take both identified routes through Idaho - scenic Highway 12, where the extra-wide loads would take up both lanes of the two-lane road, and a Highway 95/I-90 route. On Monday, Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil got a favorable ruling from a state hearing officer on its bid to take the loads across Highway 12, its preferred route; it's also been issued two permits to start bringing reduced-height loads from Lewiston up Highway 95 through Moscow to Coeur d'Alene, then across I-90 to Montana and Canada. Imperial/Exxon spokesman Pius Rolheiser said, “Given the delays we have already experienced and the schedule for the Kearl project, we're looking at all options available to us.” Could that mean the loads travel on both Idaho routes? “Yes, it could,” he said.

For now, the company is awaiting the final outcome on the Highway 12 permits, which still have an appeals period pending, and a court ruling in Montana on a challenge to road construction projects there to accommodate the extra-big loads on the Montana portion of the Highway 12 route. The two permits for the freeway route were effective on Monday, but Rolheiser said the company's still working with the Idaho State Police on staffing issues for escorts for the loads. “They have some other priorities they need to manage including the Western Governors and the Fourth of July holiday,” Rolheiser said. The company hopes to get revised dates for those first loads, which are still just as wide and long but have been reduced in height by half, to ITD this week. “It's very much our intent to move the disassembled modules on U.S. 95 and I-90 east of Coeur d'Alene,” he said.  “At the same time, we're continuing to pursue permits for U.S. 12. … Obviously we would like to move as soon as we can.”


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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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