Five weeks after its first shipment pulled out of the Port of Lewiston, ConocoPhillips has reached an important milestone in its effort to haul four mega-loads across U.S. Highway 12 in North Central Idaho.
A second load of equipment crossed the Idaho/Montana border early this morning, joining a companion shipment in Lolo, Mont. The next leg of the journey will see the two mega-loads roll in tandem to the Conoco refinery in Billings, Mont.
The third and fourth mega-loads, still sitting at the Port of Lewiston, aren't expected to roll across U.S. 12 until sometime in early April when the first two arrive at the refinery.
Meanwhile in the Idaho Legislature, the mega-loads controversy was the subject of some debate at this morning's meeting of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. While considering a new budget for the Idaho Transportation Department, Democratic Rep. Shirley Ringo of Moscow said she hoped that ITD permits could be adjusted for any future mega-loads.
"We need to consider the extra wear and tear on Idaho highways when these mega-loads roll," said Ringo.
Republican Rep. George Eskridge of Dover countered that the mega-loads contributed to the betterment of the scenic byway.
"Let's not forget that Conoco actually paid for improvements to the U.S. 12," said Eskridge.