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Wednesday, February 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Traffic engineer points to flaws in megaload transport plan

Pat Dobie, a traffic engineer who has a consulting business in Boise, is testifying at the megaloads hearing this afternoon. He said the traffic-control plan for the 200-plus proposed Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil megaloads is unclear, suggesting one load would leave Lewiston per day, but there would only be one on the road at a time. If one left every day, there'd be up to three on the road at a time, he said. "It would significantly affect the safety, because instead of having one moving hazard zone, you're now going to have three moving hazard zones." It'd also affect the convenience of the traveling public, he said, which could "in theory run into it three times in a single day."

If the plan is to just have one megaload on Highway 12 between Lewiston and Montana at a time, Dobie testified, "Then it's going to take over 600 days to move them out, one day at a time ... and this is a condition that's going to go on for multiple years." He also testified that the plan for flagging crews leapfrogging up the road from turnout to turnout to alert motorists about the megaload - which would take up the entire road - is insufficient, and would require three full crews to accomplish plus far more time than is allotted in the plan.

When Dobie tried to testify that the flagger-crew procedures in the traffic plan didn't work in the case of the "test validation module" that's currently on the road, attorneys for ITD, Imperial/Exxon and Mammoet Transportation objected, saying Dobie didn't personally observe the flagging or the loads. Dobie said he spoke with area resident Linwood Laughy about his observations and monitoring reports on the loads, but ITD attorney Larry Allen said, "That's double hearsay." The judge upheld the objection, saying, "Mr. Dobie wasn't there, he didn't observe any of these loads. I'd be much more comfortable if you'd talked to somebody from ITD or Mammoet."

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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