LEWISTON-The first thing you need to know about the infamous mega-loads is that they're big. Very big.
Hundreds of people have snapped photos of the ConocoPhillips coke drums (they're two drums split into four pieces), but none have really portrayed their immensity. Each measures 29 feet wide, 28 feet high and 226 feet long. Each weighs about 300 tons. And that's just the load. The heavy-haul trucks and trailers that will pull (and sometimes push) the mega-loads disperse the weight over 24 axles and 96 wheels.
It's not unusual for the Idaho Transportation Department to grant permits for oversized loads. By its own admission, ITD allows tens of thousands of oversized loads every year. But U.S. Highway 12 has never seen anything close to this size in its history.
While crews continue their prep work, Lewistonians have been rubber-necking around the barriers of the port to see what all the fuss is about. Some are more anxious than others.
"The mega-loads will make a dangerous highway much more dangerous," Lewiston native Linda Scott told Citydesk.
Barring any last-minute complications, the loads will begin their slow roll across U.S. 12 at approximately 10 p.m. pacific time. They'll travel until 5:30 a.m. Wednesday when crews are expected to park the convoy just west of Orofino. It will take approximately four days for the first load to reach the Montana border. That's when a second load will leave the Port of Lewiston. It will take the better part of February to complete the process.
Opponents now say they're less concerned with the actual shipments than the precedent they set. Exxon/Imperial has plans to move more than 200 mega-loads across the same stretch of U.S. Highway 12. That process would take a minimum of a year.