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Agency shuts down U.S. 12 to megaloads

Thu., Sept. 19, 2013, midnight

BOISE – Federal forest administrators issued a closure order Wednesday for a section of U.S. Highway 12 through north-central Idaho that for now suspends all future trucking of big and wide loads.

The order, signed by Faye Krueger, regional forester of the Northern Region, targets a 100-mile stretch of the roadway that passes through the Lochsa-Clearwater Wild and Scenic River corridor.

The order also comes days after a federal judge in Boise blocked a second shipment of oil-field equipment that was scheduled to begin its journey across the state Wednesday, into Montana en route to Canada’s tar sands.

Oregon-based hauler Omega Morgan trucked an enormous 225-foot-long, 640,000-pound water evaporator along the route earlier this year, touching off protests from Nez Perce tribal members and others opposed to using the scenic highway for a megaload shipping route.

The closure order is effective immediately and is in place until the agency agrees to lift it, mostly likely when Forest Service officials complete a study on the impacts the shipments could have on the river corridor.

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