BOISE – The Idaho Transportation Department announced late Wednesday that it had issued a permit for Nickel Bros. transportation company to take its first megaload across U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho on Wednesday night, bound for a Weyerhaeuser pulp mill in Alberta.
The giant load, which at 24 feet wide will block both lanes of the two-lane highway, is one of a dozen oversize loads the company hopes to send on the route. Several of the loads are wide enough to block both lanes, creating a rolling roadblock.
The Moscow-based conservation group Friends of the Clearwater on Sept. 7 filed a petition for a contested-case hearing on the plan, saying it could harm the sensitive river corridor, but ITD Director Brian Ness on Friday rejected the petition.
Wayne Roznowsky, Weyerhaeuser spokesman, said the company planned to start its shipments right away, adding that it 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, 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 Idaho route to the Montana state line at Lolo Pass.