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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

4th Conoco megaload reaches Montana; 3 megaloads now parked at Lolo

The fourth and last ConocoPhillips megaload has arrived at the Montana line, and is now parked at Lolo Hot Springs, the Idaho Transportation Department announced this morning. That means three - count 'em, three - giant megaloads are now parked at the hot springs resort at the top of Lolo Pass: The two from ConocoPhillips, and the ExxonMobil "test validation module," which is stopped there awaiting further go-aheads from the state of Montana, which has a court hearing today on a possible injunction against road work to allow that module to proceed.

The final Conoco load, taking equipment to the company's Billings, Mont. refinery, left milepost 169 on U.S. Highway 12 in Idaho at 10:01 p.m. Sunday, and reached the top of Lolo Pass at 10:48 p.m. It crossed into Montana at 11:06 p.m., ITD reported, following a revised transportation plan for the Conoco loads that allows six days to travel from Lewiston to the Montana line. The third Conoco load was at Lolo Hot Springs waiting for it, where it's been since May 6th. "Montana is allowing them to travel in a convoy fashion," two at a time, said ITD spokesman Adam Rush. "We've asked them on our side to create space between them." The fourth Conoco load left Lewiston on May 10th. The ExxonMobil test megaload has been sitting at Lolo Hot Springs, on private property, since May 4th.

"We're all there ready to go," said Mark Hefty, spokesman for Emmert International, the hauler for the ConocoPhillips loads. Asked if there's enough space for all three giant loads in the same area, Hefty said, "There has to be, otherwise the states wouldn't allow us to stop. I don't think we're all right there on top of each other. I think we're close but not exactly the same place." The two Conoco loads are scheduled to start moving into Montana tonight shortly after midnight, and arrive in Billings around June 8.

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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