Thousands of Over-Legal Loads Travel Highway 12 Each Year

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Reymundo Rodriguez knows a lot about over-legal size loads traveling along Idaho highways. It's his job.

As a Commercial Vehicle Services Manager for the Idaho Transportation Department he and his staff consider issuing permits for giant loads. Just how many loads over over-legal? In Fiscal Year 2010, 64,000 over-legal permits were issued by the ITD.

Rodriguez testified Wednesday at the contested case hearing considering ConocoPhillips' request to haul four mega-loads across north central Idaho. Among evidence entered into the record was an e-mail from Rodriguez to Conoco officials telling them that U.S. Highway 12 would be a good route to travel because ExxonMobil (which also wants to haul more than 200 mega-loads across the same stretch) had spent $1.6 million to raze or bury overhead utility lines. Rodriguez also informed Conoco that minor-grading and graveling had been updated at numerous turnouts on Highway 12.

In a tense Q-and-A with Laird Lucas, attorney for Idaho residents opposing the mega-loads, Rodriguez kept his answers short.

Lucas: "Did the department look at an alternative route?"
Rodriguez: "Highway 12 is the only way."

Lucas: "Have you ever authorized a load this size to go up Highway 12?"
Rodriguez: "No."

Lucas: "Have you ever denied a permit based on public convenience?"
Rodriguez: "No."

Lucas: "In your 28 year experience, have you ever seen an over-legal load that has generated so much public concern?"
Rodriguez: "No."

Lucas: "This road is particularly unique, isn't it?"
Rodriguez: "We've done our homework."

Lucas: "Did you take into account that this is a state and national scenic byway?"
Rodriguez: "No we didn't."