Thursday, December 9, 2010

Worst Case Scenarios at Mega-loads Hearing

Posted By on Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Opponents of mega-loads want to talk about worst-case scenarios. Their opponents want to talk about anything but.

It's the second and final day of a contested case hearing on ConocoPhillips' plans to haul four giant coke drums across north central Idaho. A special hearing officer, Merlyn Clark, is presiding. He'll eventually send his recommendation to the Idaho Transportation Department.

Doral Hoff, an ITD engineer, has been quizzed by Natalie Havlina of Advocates for the West, representing more than a dozen Idahoans opposed to the idea of watching mega-loads crawl across Highway 12 where they live. Havlina asked Hoff about what would happen if one of the huge loads crashed into the Clearwater or Lochsa Rivers.

"We're confident it won't crash. We've had a number of wide loads go up U.S. 12 and we haven't had any accidents," said Hoff.

When asked how long it would take to haul a wreck out of the river, Hoff said it could easily take a month or two.

Hoff testified that a convoy for just one of the mega-loads could be 270 feet long. That would include the truck, an escort in front and in back, an ambulance, a vehicle repair truck and Idaho State Police. Driving two hours ahead would be another truck, "chalking" a route, especially along the many curves on the scenic roadway. Hoff also detailed how hydraulics would be constantly adjusting the truckloads as they make their way along tight canyon walls.

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