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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Crowd grows restive at megaloads hearing

As attorney Laird Lucas continued cross-examining ITD motor vehicles administrator Alan Frew, he noted that Frew, in his memorandum of decision, described public comments the department received as "subjective and hypothetical concerns," and asked whether he'd reviewed the chances of an accident. Frew said there was "probably not even one in a million chance that this load will end up in the river. We've got lots of safety considerations in place. ... We're trying to do the very best that we can to ensure that these moves happen orderly and safely."

Lucas responded, "We heard from the oil industry that drilling in the Gulf was perfectly safe," at which point he was suddenly drowned out by loud grumbling from the crowd - including dozens of ConocoPhillips Billings refinery employees - and multiple objections from attorneys for Conoco and ITD. The objections were upheld and Lucas was advised to stick to Highway 12.

He then went on to cite accidents involving megaloads elsewhere, saying they were "similar loads" and ITD should have looked into them in reviewing the request. Hearing officer Merlyn Clark sustained the objections and didn't admit the information about the other accidents as evidence, but noted that they're now in the record and could be cited in any future appeal.

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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