- Adam Rosenlund
Four years after a federal judge chastised authorities for not doing a good enough job regulating giant shipments or "megaloads" rolling through some of Idaho's most pristine wilderness, the Idaho Transportation Department has unveiled new rules for shipments traveling on U.S. Highway 12 in north central Idaho.
The controversy erupted in 2010 when enormous shipments began traveling across U.S. 12, meeting opposition and from environmentalists and Native American tribes.
"There's a reason they're called megaloads, your honor," an attorney for Idaho Rivers United told U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in February 2012. "Even the U.S. Forest Service has called megaloads 'overtly, industrious elements' being introduced to a wild and scenic river location."
Shortly thereafter, Winmill ruled that the U.S. Forest Service was responsible for protecting the corridor along the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers.
The Lewiston Tribune reports that ITD board of directors voted to move forward with revised rules that could allow megaloads back on U.S. 12, which would include the following:
- An ambulance would need to accompany megaloads
- Special lighting attached to the megaloads would need Idaho State Police approval
- Megaloads would not be allowed to use turnouts designated for recreational vehicles
- Travel schedules would need to accommodate 'the best interest of the public'
If approved, the new rules would allow permitting for shipments exceeding 16 feet in length and requiring more than 12 hours to travel through the Wild and Scenic River Corridor and Nez Perce National Forest—specifically, the section of U.S. 12 from milepost 75.2 to milepost 174.3.
The 2017 Idaho Legislature will have to approve the new guidelines, officially titled "U.S. 12 Administrative Rule 39.03.11."