Eye On Boise

Megaloads testimony wraps up with focus on traffic plans, pavement damage

Retired Idaho District Judge Duff McKee presides at the final day of testimony in a contested case hearing on Highway 12 megaloads on Friday. (Betsy Russell)
Retired Idaho District Judge Duff McKee presides at the final day of testimony in a contested case hearing on Highway 12 megaloads on Friday. (Betsy Russell)

Testimony in the contested case hearing on megaloads on U.S. Highway 12 has wrapped up; in the final testimony, ITD called Jeff Miles, a materials expert for the department, to respond to testimony from Pat Dobie, a traffic engineer called by opponents of megaloads on U.S. Highway 12. Dobie testified that the test megaload that Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil sent over the route didn't follow the traffic control plan, so it wasn't a valid test of the plan. Miles said the plans are "intended to be a minimum requirement." That echoed a concern the hearing officer, retired Idaho District Judge Duff McKee, brought up during Dobie's testimony about the test. "You're saying the permit is not just the minimum requirements," McKee said to Dobie. Dobie responded, "It's my understanding that the requirement is, if you're going to change the plan, you go back and change the permit."

Dobie also disputed Miles' earlier testimony about pavement damage from the loads; he said the pavement on the route would suffer more damage because of its thinness. Miles wasn't asked about that in his final rebuttal testimony.

Laird Lucas of Advocates for the West, attorney for the opponents, said afterward that Dobie's testimony that ITD's fees for the megaloads plus gas tax revenue from their passage through the state would cover only about 20 percent of the loads' damage to pavement on Highway 12 was significant. Even by ITD's figures, he said, it'd be only about 30 percent. "It still means they're not covering even half the cost they're imposing on the pavement itself, using ITD's numbers, and that was unrebutted."

McKee set a briefing schedule calling for all sides to submit their final written arguments, and then replies, by the end of May. He told the assembled attorneys for the opponents, ITD, Imperial/Exxon, and Mammoet Transportation, the hauler for Imperial/Exxon, "Thank you, everybody. This has been a professional pleasure for me." McKee said there's "nothing I enjoy more than watching good lawyers" argue issues.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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