LEWISTON, Idaho — The U.S. Forest Service has told the Idaho Department of Transportation it can't support an application for a massive shipment to move on U.S. Highway 12 across northern Idaho and into Montana.

The Lewiston Tribune reports in a story on Saturday that Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell sent a letter to ITD Chief Deputy Scott Stokes informing him of the federal agency's decision.

The state agency is considering an application from Omega Morgan to move a water purification vessel weighing 644,000 pounds from the Port of Lewiston along the Wild and Scenic River corridor to the Montana border. The load would be 255 feet long and 21 feet wide.

Brazell said in the letter that the agency will review any load that requires traffic to be fully stopped, can't complete the route in 12 hours, or that requires physical modification of the roadway or nearby vegetation. Brazell said the Omega Morgan load hits all three categories.

"Until we have a clear understanding of those potential impacts, I cannot support authorization of such oversized loads through the National Forest or within the Wild and Scenic River corridor," Brazell wrote.

Transportation Department spokesman Jeff Stratten in an email to the newspaper said the agency officials "will be discussing the letter with the Forest Service to review its concerns."

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in a ruling in February following a lawsuit by a conservation group made clear the Forest Service had authority to get involved in the state's decision to permit the large shipments, and in fact "acted unlawfully" by standing on the sidelines in previous megaload shipments.

Brazell said he wants the state, Forest Service, Federal Highway Administration and Nez Perce Tribe to define "the physical and intrinsic values associated with the Highway 12 corridor that may be affected by oversized loads."

"We want to get something going so we can show (the judge) we are doing our due diligence and trying to look out for the wild and scenic river and the tribe's interests," Brazell said.

He said he's open to a discussion on what defines a megaload. The state, since Winmill's ruling, has been seeking the Forest Service's approval for every oversized load on the corridor.

"We want to get to the point of let's quit worrying about a big combine coming through and get to the stuff everybody was worried about in the first place, the really big stuff," he said.

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(11) comments

Yz250
Yz250

Can anyone explain to me why all of you are against this, if you are saying it is damaging the road, it will damage other roads also. It does not damage anything that has to do with the river, it is not putting any pollutants into it. I do see quite a few small businesses benefiting from it. All it is, is a truck that driving along it. All the motor homes going along it put off far more pollution into the air than it does. I have made trips over that route and cannot see any signs of megaload damage. They travel at night as to not disrupt traffic flow much. So what is the problem?

Highway12
Highway12

Almost 100 miles of Highway 12 runs through the Lochsa-Clearwater Wild & Scenic River corridor and, therefore (theoretically) is protected as per the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act for its remarkable, intrinsic values. The USFS is charged with upholding that act, and as the article pointed out, Judge Winmill stated that the USFS had acted unlawfully by not stepping forward to uphold that act by protecting the corridor's intrinsic values from the negative impacts that industrialization of the corridor would bring. The entire 174 mile route, border to border, is winding. Almost all of it is narrow: 23-24-feet wide. The route also boasts the national designations Northwest Passage Scenic Byway, Lewis & Clark Trail, Nez Perce National Historic Park (with several sites along the route), and All-American Highway (1 of only 27 in the nation). The route passes through the Clearwater National Forest, the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, borders the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, and provides access to the Wild & Scenic Selway River. The route is part of the TransAmerica Bicycle Route and was named the #1 motocycle highway for its curves and beauty by Motocycle Magazine. Highway 12, in other words, is no ordinary highway. And the Lochsa-Clearwater Wild & Scenic corridor doesn't just support but enables north central Idaho's single thriving industry: recreation/tourism. Were the route to be industrialized by Big Oil and its proposed hundreds -- yes, hundreds -- of megaloads, that recreation/tourism industry would collapse.

So those of you asking about 'road damage' are missing the main issue (see above), but it is at the same time true that although you may not spot immediate road damage in the wake of one megaload's passage on Highway 12, the rate of damage that will need fixing will accelerate if hundreds of megaloads are allowed to industrialize the Wild & Scenic corridor, and you, the taxpayer, will pay -- at an accelerated rate -- for the needed repairs. You will be, in effect, subsidizing Big Oil's megaload shipments.

But primarily the megaload fight is about upholding law -- the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and the Scenic Byway Act, and it's about preventing Big Oil from running roughshod over a rural tourism economy and yet another pristine and beautiful American treasure.

lakeguy406
lakeguy406

Go around....

AL KIPF
AL KIPF

The collectivists win again.

GaryTinkSanders
GaryTinkSanders

If you pay taxes on it as an individual or as a company you should have the right to use it.

Bones
Bones

Yes...within limits. No one could argue that I should be allowed to drive my tractor trailer up one of the Blue Mountain hiking trails. Highway 12 is just a really bad place for oversized loads.

GaryTinkSanders
GaryTinkSanders

That is why the last time they proposed to do the moving at night and in the winter to not effect traffic and tourism.

Amabo
Amabo

Wonderful! Great news!!!

DMarie
DMarie

keep ALL mega-loads off that highway.....make those rich companies use another route

Yz250
Yz250

Leave it to the forest circus to take away jobs and money the small towns need along the route. Can anyone show me damage the megaloads have caused that have gone that way. I drove over there two weeks ago and could not see one bit of damage they have caused. So what's the fuss about?

logger
logger

Ahhh...what a great victory. Perhaps the radical enviros that sue them will be appeased.

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