Saturday, August 3, 2013

Forest Service Says It Doesn't Have Authority to Stop Mega-Load Given Green Light by ITD

Posted By on Sat, Aug 3, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Omega Morgan floated two massive shipments up the Columbia River in anticipation of rolling them across U.S. 12,
  • Friends of the Clearwater
  • Omega Morgan floated two massive shipments up the Columbia River in anticipation of rolling them across U.S. 12.

As far as the Idaho Transportation Department is concerned, the latest round of mega-loads, beginning with a 255-foot-long rocketship-sized load, can go ahead and crawl across U.S. Highway 12 in North-Central Idaho.

ITD officially granted a permit to Omega Morgan, the contracted mover, to haul the mega-load across Idaho, into Montana and up to the Tar Sands Oil Project in Alberta, Canada.

"The shipper has met Idaho's criteria to be issued an over-sized permit," said ITD Chief Deputy Scott Stokes. "We have issued that permit so that it now can be reviewed by the two federal agencies."

Those two agencies are the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Highway Administration, which were told by a U.S. district judge that they should be regularly reviewing permits for loads that want to travel across a large stretch of U.S. 12, since it winds through a Wild and Scenic Corridor.

Omega Morgan has formally notified the USFS that it intends to move the mega-load on the evening of Monday, Aug. 5; but, as of this morning, the USFS hadn't changed its displeasure over the size of the load and, in particular, the fact that it would regularly block two lanes of traffic on U.S. 12 and take more than 12 hours to reach the Montana border.

"ITD and the Forest Service have different interests," Heather Berg, USFS Wild and Scenic River administrator told Boise Weekly. "I think it would be best to describe our conversations as cordial and professional."

But USFS Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell has said his agency would not likely attempt to stop the shipments if Omega Morgan doesn't have its approval.

"We don't have the authority to stop the mega-loads," Brazell told the Lewiston Tribune. "You read the court ruling and it says we have authority to review the state permits. We have reviewed them and made our interim criteria."

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