The Idaho Transportation Board has unanimously adopted new rules for megaloads on scenic Highway 12 in north-central Idaho, though a federal court injunction against such loads remains in effect and court-ordered mediation still is under way.
The new Idaho Transportation Department rules, which the board approved late last week, would, among other changes, require ambulances to accompany the big shipments, which take up both sides of the road; restrict the use of recreational turnouts by the loads; and allow only one megaload at a time to traverse the twisting, 100-mile section of highway that traverses two federally designated wild and scenic river corridors.
“The injunction specifically has to do with only one load by one carrier at that time,” said Ramon Hobdey-Sanchez, governmental affairs program specialist for ITD and the department’s agency rules coordinator.
The September 2013 injunction, issued by U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill, ordered the route closed “to any Omega-Morgan megaload” until the Forest Service has conducted a corridor review and consulted with the Nez Perce Tribe. The judge also wrote in his ruling, “There is no other adequate remedy besides blocking the megaloads.”
Laird Lucas, lead counsel in the case for Idaho Rivers United, one of the parties in the megaloads lawsuit, said the injunction names Omega-Morgan, the company proposing megaloads at the time, but has wider application. “They were the ones before the court, so that’s what the court focused on,” Lucas said. “The analysis would apply to any megaloads.”
He added that if further megaloads were proposed by other carriers, his clients would go back to Judge Winmill and ask that the injunction be expanded to cover them as well. “It would be a simple matter,” he said. “We’ll be right back in court.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.