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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

ITD: Highway 12 turnouts would be barricaded to avoid protests from ‘nuts’

Here's why the permits for the ConocoPhillips megaloads call for barricading turnouts along U.S. Highway 12 for 24 hours before loads arrive: "It's my understanding that we had received information from ISP and from other sources outside the department that there would be protests, and ... they would seek to interrupt the movement of this traffic," said Alan Frew, ITD motor vehicles chief. "What we don't want to have happen is that protesters, no matter how well intentioned, to disrupt the flow of traffic and create an unsafe situation." Asked if barricading the turnouts on the narrow, twisting road for 24 hours at a time wouldn't impact public safety and convenience - which state regulations require ITD to make a primary consideration - Frew said, "We've never gotten this level of public ... scrutiny, and along with that comes, I'll call 'em nuts, that very well intentioned and well-meaning but they do seek to interrupt the flow of traffic."

Attorney Laird Lucas responded, "But it's not going to just affect the nuts. Anyone who travels Highway 12..." at which Frew responded, "Yeah, to a certain extent, for these four loads, I don't think it's going to be very extensive." Not all 100-plus turnouts along the route would be barricaded at the same time, Frew said, though all those along a certain stretch of the road might be. "What we do is we try to balance the needs of all the highway users, and we think we do a pretty fair job of this," he said. "For a short period of time, we're going to have to balance those needs."

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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