The first Nickel Bros. megaload on scenic Highway 12 in north-central Idaho, which crossed into Montana late Monday night, traveled without any state police escorts – and the Idaho Transportation Department now says it won't require police escorts for any of the company's eight remaining oversized transports on the route. Idaho State Police troopers traveling both in front and in back of each load were key points of previous permits issued for megaloads on Highway 12; the companies paid for the troopers' overtime.
Idaho Transportation Department spokesman Adam Rush said, “It was determined an ISP escort was not available, and upon reflection determined not to be necessary.” Instead, he said, emergency radio coordination was delegated to an emergency medical technician traveling with the shipments.
Opponents of the giant equipment transports on the narrow, winding road are steamed at the change, and say the state trooper escorts for the oversize loads – which are wide enough to block both lanes of travel, creating a rolling roadblock – have been described all along as key to safe transport of the big loads on the route. “To us this is a major concern of public safety and it's a major violation of what ITD and ISP has consistently told the public for 15 months,” said Linwood Laughy, a Highway 12 resident who's been a leading opponent of the giant transports. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.