The first week of the New Year should see a formal objection to recommendations from an administrative hearing officer on controversial mega-loads in north central Idaho.
Laird Lucas of Advocates for the West, representing a group of Idaho citizens opposing the T-rex-sized shipments, told Citydesk that his clients are crafting a formal objection to the the 57-page decision issued earlier this week by hearing officer Merlyn Clark.
"The process gave us 14 to 21 days to file an objection with the director [Brian Ness] of the Idaho Transportation Department," Lucas told Citydesk. "I expect that to be in his hands late next week."
Clark's report recommended permits to be approved to ConocoPhillips, which wants to haul four giant coke drums from the Port of Lewiston to its facility in Billings, Montana. Conoco insisted that the only path was across U.S. Highway 12.
"I have to say that the hearing officer simply did not address the issues we raised," said Lucas. "ITD didn't do its homework on this. For instance, we learned that they hadn't even properly measured the turnouts where the equipment would need to be pulled aside. Yet, they want to construct barriers at those turnouts to keep the public away."
If approved, each load would take four nights to travel 173 miles between Lewiston and the Montana border. According to Idaho's 10-minute rule, the maximum delay allowed for any cars that encounter these loads is 10 minutes.
"They didn't even address the 10-minute delay," Lucas told Citydesk.
Meanwhile, Conoco is ready to roll.
"We will soon put our plan into action," said Conoco refinery manager Steve Steach. "We look forward to delivering the equipment to Billings safely so we can complete our important refinery maintenance plan."