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Posts tagged: Nickel Brothers

Exxon plans freeway route for all its remaining megaloads, skipping scenic Highway 12

Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil has applied to the Montana Department of Transportation to send all its remaining Canada-bound megaloads of oil equipment along freeway routes, rather than along scenic U.S. Highway 12, the Associated Press reports. The application covers about 300 reduced-size loads headed to Alberta via interstates 90 and 15; Exxon's original proposal to send more than 200 giant loads across the twisting scenic route's Idaho portion prompted protests and legal challenges. The firm then began reducing the height of the loads and sending them on freeway routes, including up Highway 95 from Lewiston to I-90 at Coeur d'Alene. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Matt Volz in Helena.

Imperial/Exxon spokesman Pius Rolheiser said the firm isn't giving up on the Highway 12 route. “Imperial continues to view U.S. 12 as a viable option, as a viable route,” he said. But with permitting delays experienced thus far, he said, the company wanted to have a “contingency plan” in place.
  

ITD drops police escort rule for latest Highway 12 megaloads

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.
  

Nickel Bros. megaload to roll on Highway 12 tonight

The first Nickel Bros. megaload will roll tonight on U.S. Highway 12, the Idaho Transportation Department announced late today; the giant load of evaporator equipment is bound for a Weyerhaeuser pulp mill in northern Alberta. Wayne Roznowsky, Weyerhaeuser spokesman, said the company planned to start its shipments right away, and hasn't had permit issues regarding the Montana portion of its route.

A 14-day appeal period on Ness' decision is still running, but Natalie Havlina, attorney for Friends of the Clearwater, which filed a petition for a hearing on the project, said, “ITD has made it clear that they don't intend to wait for a motion for reconsideration or go ahead and let that run before … they authorize the loads to go. That is disappointing but not surprising.” She said she found it “very concerning” that ITD gave such little advance notice to the public that the giant load would be traveling. It is scheduled to travel between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., and take five nights to traverse the scenic north-central Idaho route to the Montana state line at Lolo Pass; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

ITD gives go-ahead for Nickel Bros. megaload to move tonight on Highway 12

The Idaho Transportation Department has announced that it's issued a permit for Nickel Bros. transportation company to take its first megaload across U.S. Highway 12 tonight, bound for a Weyerhaeuser pulp mill in northern Alberta. The load will be 29 feet high, 24 feet wide, and 185 feet long, and weighs 567,650 pounds. The Moscow-based conservation group Friends of the Clearwater filed a petition for a contested-case hearing on the plan, which includes a dozen oversize loads, several of which are wide enough to block both lanes of the two-lane road, but ITD Director Brian Ness rejected the petition. Click below to read ITD's full announcement.

Imperial/Exxon heads to court in Montana to try to clear Hwy 12 megaloads

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Imperial Oil of Canada is asking a Montana judge to dissolve or modify his order that effectively stopped huge loads of oilfield equipment from travelling along two-lane roads in Montana. District Judge Ray Dayton, of Anaconda, is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday in Missoula, the Missoulian reported Tuesday.

Dayton sided with Missoula County and three environmental groups in May in ordering a temporary injunction preventing the Montana Department of Transportation from issuing any more permits for pullouts along the route. Dayton said the agency didn't seem to adequately consider the impact of new turnouts along the route and the environmental assessment wasn't clear on how the agency concluded an interstate route wasn't feasible. Imperial, a Canadian subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corp., called Dayton's ruling unprecedented.

“There is no reported case in Montana of an injunction of such breadth and scope with respect to the use of a public highway,” Imperial Oil argued. It said the injunction had already cost the company millions of dollars because it had to disassemble 33 modules at the Port of Lewiston so they could fit on interstate routes. Imperial also argued that Dayton relied on evidence introduced by the plaintiffs that they did not bring up in court briefs, including the possibility that the project could lead to a permanent corridor for megaloads through the area.

Imperial said even if the injunction isn't dissolved Thursday, it could be modified to allow the company to move equipment along U.S. Highway 12 through Idaho to Lolo and then to Missoula. The company said such a ruling would also address one of the court's concerns: “No high-wide corridor would be established on the … route because the injunction would only be partially lifted.” The equipment is for an oil sands project in Canada.
  

ITD says no hearings on new Highway 12 megaloads proposal

Idaho Transportation Director Brian Ness today denied a petition to intervene and hold a contested-case hearing on a new proposal from Nickel Bros. and Weyerhaeuser Inc. to run nine large oversize loads, including several wide enough to block both lanes of traffic, across U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho. Ness ruled that all the issues the Friends of the Clearwater raised in their petition already were addressed in the contested-case hearings over plans by Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil to send more than 200 megaloads of oil equipment across the same route, and in an earlier hearing over ConcoPhillips' now-completed plans for four megaloads on the same route, so there was no reason to hold further hearings.

“A third contested case hearing is not warranted. The facts and concerns raised in the petition have been fully considered in two separate hearings and resolved by hearing officers,” Ness said; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

However, during the earlier hearings, when opponents raised concerns about the ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil loads setting a precedent for turning the scenic river corridor into a megaload-friendly industrial route, ITD stressed that it was considering only the proposal before it - and not any precedent. The latest decision suggests otherwise. “The law does not require nor allow a party to re-litigate issues and claims that have already been ruled upon by the appropriate authority,” Ness said in an ITD press release. You can click below to read the full release, click here to read Ness' full decision, and click here to read the Friends of the Clearwater's petition for intervention.
  

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About this blog

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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