While Southern Idaho awaits its first glimpse of a 900,000-pound mega-load that is expected to spend the better part of the holidays crawling through the Gem State before heading to Montana and the tar sands oil project in Alberta, Canada, it turns out that citizens in Northern Idaho who have already seen their fair share of the giant rigs might be witnessing three more mega-load deliveries sooner than later.
The Idaho Transportation Department is considering permits for three mega-loads to travel through Moscow, up to Coeur d'Alene, turning east toward Great Falls, Montana. One vehicle and its equipment is reported to weigh 1.6 million pounds, according to the ITD.
Making matters more interesting is that the mega-load shipments could completely shut down Interstate 90 in Idaho's Panhandle for "brief periods of time," said the ITD.
According to a proposal, ITD would also need to build a temporary I-90 on-ramp for the mega-loads, which could roll through the Panhandle as soon as January.
Transportation Department officials have scheduled a public hearing for Thursday, Dec. 19, in Coeur d'Alene to explain the closures. Each of the shipments is 472 feet long, 27 feet wide and approximately 16 feet tall.
Meanwhile, the mega-load inching its way through Eastern Oregon before heading to Southern Idaho has met even more resistance. Sixteen self-proclaimed "climate justice" activists were arrested Dec. 16 after they locked themselves to two disabled vehicles in front of the giant load, blocking its route on Oregon State Highway 26, outside of John Day, Ore. The same load was blocked Dec. 1, when two people locked themselves to the giant rig.
“We have responsibility for what happens on our lands, but there are no boundaries for air, and the carbon dioxide this equipment would create affects us all," said Umatilla Tribal Member Shane Radford. "The Nez Perce Tribe said no to mega-loads, and so should we."
Due to frosting on highway overpasses, the mega-load has been granted special permission from the Oregon Department of Transportation to travel through the day today, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time. It is expected to reach Vale, Ore., by early Thursday morning.