Eastern Oregon and Southern Idaho are expected to soon get their own eyeful of so-called "mega-loads," as a trio of giant shipments take the long way up to Alberta, Canada's tar sands oil fields.
Previous mega-loads have been met by protests and legal action as haulers pulled massive pieces of equipment from the Port of Lewiston, across U.S. Highway 12 in north central Idaho toward Montana, before heading north to Canada.
U.S. Judge B. Lynn Winmill has halted any further mega-loads from moving across U.S. 12 until the U.S. Forest Service can conduct a study to determine the environmental impact of the shipments on the Wild and Scenic Byway.
Meanwhile, in October shippers have moved some of the "smaller" mega-loads up Idaho's I-95.
But at least three more mega-loads are too big to travel up I-95 and would not clear some of the overpasses on Idaho's north/south route. That's why the movers have now decided to travel south through Eastern Oregon, crawl across Southern Idaho and then travel up western Montana to get to Alberta.
The giant loads would now travel from the Port of Umatilla, east to Pendleton, south on U.S. Highway 395 to Mount Vernon, and east through John Day and Prairie City to Ontario, Oregon. They would then travel across Idaho toward Montana before heading north.
Oregon transportation officials have indicated that the first mega-load would move before the end of this month and two more shipments would roll before the end of December. Exact dates have not yet been set.