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Eye On Boise

ITD joins wide-loads appeal

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Transportation Department joined an oil refiner in asking the state Supreme Court to overturn a judge's decision that's halted shipments of oversized equipment over U.S. Highway 12. ConocoPhillips has already appealed 2nd District Judge John Bradbury's move to revoke state permits, claiming it will lose up to $9 million and suffer production disruptions at a Montana refinery. In its appeal Monday, the Idaho highway agency argued Bradbury erred on several fronts. Its director, Brian Ness, wants state high court justices to let ConocoPhillips move ahead, contending his agency has taken steps to provide for safe transport of the big gear on U.S. 12. Environmental groups and others oppose ConocoPhillips shipments and more than 200 separate, planned wide-load transports by Exxon Mobile Corp. that are bound for Canada's oil country.

Meanwhile, in a news release, ITD Director Brian Ness said the department decided to appeal today in part because it felt 2nd District Judge John Bradbury's decision revoking the ConocoPhillips permits limited the department's discretion, which could "end up restricting commerce and limiting business opportunities." He also said he felt the department reached its decision regardless of the fact that ConocoPhillips already had shipped its oversize loads to the Port of Lewiston in May. Click below to read the full ITD news release.

Idaho Transportation Department News Release
August 30, 2010


Idaho Transportation Department appeals to state Supreme Court ruling on U.S. 12 permits

BOISE - The Idaho Transportation Department is appealing an Aug. 24 district court ruling that revoked permits for ConocoPhillips to transport oversized loads on U.S. 12.

The appeal was filed with the Idaho Supreme Court Monday afternoon and is based on four main points:

1. Existing rules authorize the transportation department to issue permits that in some circumstances allow traffic delays to exceed 10 minutes.  The judge ruled the department has no discretion and must keep all traffic delays related to oversized shipments to 10 minutes or less.

"If the department is not allowed discretion in determining acceptable delays, we will end up restricting commerce and limiting business opportunities," said Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian W. Ness.

"For example, there are many communities within Idaho where a manufactured home could not be located, because it is not possible to get it there without delaying traffic for more than 10 minutes. The department is committed to doing the right thing for highway users by ensuring minimal delays."

2. Whether the department adequately considered if it was necessary to transport the loads on U.S. 12 through Idaho, rather than through other states. The judge ruled the department must make a reasonable determination whether it is necessary to allow an oversized load within Idaho and review all other possible national and international routes in making a decision.

"The department's responsibility is to review the necessity of moving a large load on a requested Idaho highway not to identify, review and judge all possible worldwide routes," Ness said.

3. The evidence of the case should have been considered regardless of the current location of the loads. The judge believed that moving the ConocoPhillips loads to the Port of Lewiston demonstrated the department already had made a decision about transporting them on U.S. 12.

"ConocoPhillips took a calculated business risk in moving the loads to the Port of Lewiston. At no time did its decision factor into our process," Ness said. "The department was reviewing and adding requirements to the permit right up to the time the court ordered us to stop.

"We have taken the steps we believe are necessary to provide for the safe transport of equipment on U.S. 12, without compromising the highways and bridges and with minimal impact on the traveling public. That is consistent with the department's mission."

4. Whether the department considered, when issuing the permits for oversized loads, public concern about private vehicles involved in emergent medical situations.

"Permits for the transport of oversized loads on U.S. 12 required submission and approval of a traffic plan. In response to public comments, we asked that the traffic plan specifically address emergency vehicles - both public and private," Ness added.


Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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