Yet Another Formal Proceeding on Mega-Loads About to Begin

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Downtown's Grove Hotel is festooned with holiday garlands, lights and bows. But it's not a party atmosphere inside the Evergreen room. That's where sides are once more being drawn in the seemingly endless debate over mega-loads.

The Idaho Transportation Dept. is holding something called a contested case hearing. But anyone expecting a public hearing will be disappointed. Sure, it's open to the public but no public comments will be taken. Rather both sides will call and cross-examine witnesses concerning the four coke drums that ConocoPhillips wants to haul across U.S. Highway 12 in north central idaho.

While there is nothing simple about the process, maybe the simplest way to explain the status is that it is moving backward. Once ITD granted permits for Conoco to rolll, opponents went to Idaho District Court and eventually ended up in State Supreme Court. The high court ruled that it should never have gotten that far that fast. So a special hearing officer heard arguments in November on whether or not to allow ITD and Conoco to proceed. Instead, Hearing Officer Merlyn Clark recommended that the matter be heard in a formal contested case hearing. And this is where today's hearing comes in.

Citydesk will be keep you apprised throughout the day.