Mega-Loads Roll Earlier in Oregon; Protesters Cry Foul

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Initially, Oregonians were under the impression that the latest mega-load—which is taking a new route through the eastern portion of their state before crossing into Idaho, Montana and then up to the Tar Sands oil project in Alberta, Canada—would roll across their region's highways in the overnight hours when traffic was minimal.

But the Associated Press reports this morning that a giant rig, carrying a 450-ton piece of oil refinery equipment, left the Port of Umatilla, Ore., at 8 p.m., "which furious protesters felt was in violation of an Oregon Transportation Department permit."

The mega-load was already delayed by a day when two protesters were arrested in the late hours of Dec. 1 when they locked themselves to the truck. By the time police removed the shackles, movers decided it was two late for it to roll Sunday night and Monday morning.

The two people were charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and released without bail with a stipulation that they would not return to the port to protest.

The AP reports that a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation said the load's route runs on lands ceded in the Treaty of 1855. A statement about the treaty on the tribal website said the tribes reserved rights to hunt, fish and gather food on 6.4 million acres in Oregon and Washington and "maintain a keen interest and involvement in the activities that occur in that area."

The new route, through Eastern Oregon, is approximately 300 miles long, much of it rolling across Highways 395 and 26. When the mega-load arrives in Idaho—and there are expected to be at least two more that follow—the giant rig is expected to roll through the communities of Homedale and Marsing before traveling on Interstate 84 past Mountain Home, and then moving to U.S. Highways 20, 28 and 93 before heading into Montana.