Friday, May 28, 2010

Fighting Goliath

Many Idahoans are writing to Governor Butch Otter expressing concerns about the Port of Lewiston's and ExxonMobil's plans to turn Idaho's Northwest Passage Scenic Byway and All-American Road - Highway 12 from Lewiston to Lolo Pass - into a permanent route for the transport of giant industrial equipment. The loads in question are wider than both lanes of traffic on this 2-lane roadway and will block the road completely when they are moving. The travel plans call for the 210-foot-long tractor/trailer units to pull off on "traffic clearance stations" approximately every 3-6 miles in order to limit traffic delays, which by regulation cannot be more than 15 minutes in duration. ExxonMobil has identified 55 such pullout locations, and hence intends to have approximately 55 traffic delays along the 174 mile route.

Yet, here's what Governor Otter would like us to believe about these shipments, quoted from the standard response from his office, repeated for days now to those who've inquired about the shipments: "Under ITD's current guidelines, the shipper could delay traffic and close a small section of U.S. 12 for up to 15 minutes at a time for each load, and do this no more than two times over the entire route for each load."

Does our governor really think the rural people of north central Idaho will believe that 210-foot-long, 3-story high, 24-foot wide truck/trailer/loads will only hold us up on curvy U.S. 12 twice?!

His repeated statement demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the size of these behemoths and of the nature of the highway and also a lack of concern for the safety and well being of the rural people of Highway 12. We should all become informed about what the governor, the Port of Lewiston and ExxonMobil are planning to do with our scenic byway and then voice our objections.

If you want accurate and thorough information on this pending nightmare for Idahoans and, by the way, for our travel and tourism industry, go to


  1. My letter to the editor of the Missoulian and sent to your ID list on your site:

    Big Oil, Big Rigs...They Don't Care About Us.

    In looking at what is happening in the Gulf, it is apparent that when environmental disaster strikes, there are no real contingency plans in place and Big Oil destroys the lives and livelihoods of the people to make their stockholders happy and keep their CEO salaries up.

    In light of that sobering fact, we need to say NO to the big rigs that Big Oil wants to send through Idaho and Montana. Once one of those goes over the edge of the road, there is nothing that can get them out of the river or worse extract them from the steep 100s of feet drop off of many of these roads. Tanker oil and gasoline seeping into our pristine rivers or into the ground for days or weeks until some one can send a crane.

    Big oil doesn't care about us. Not to mention the slap in the face. They took the jobs away from American workers, had these gargantuan things built in a foreign country and want to transport through our states to another foreign country...this is like a one night stand.

    We are being treated like cheap hookers. They are committed to their long time loves, money, and stock holders, and use us like we are cheap one night stands.

    I am calling on you the governors and the DOTs to tell you to just say NO to this slap in the face of the American worker. If Canada wants these so bad let them send it on Hwy 3 through Canadian British Columbia themselves.

    Missoula, MT

  2. Your a nut bag and you need to stop scaring people with your insight that is light on facts but heavy on scare-ism.

    There are more axles and tires under these heavy loads than most people can imagine. The actual ponds/square foot of impact or load force is less than your average semi trailer that rumbles through your neighborhood daily. Even some of the large 5th wheel holiday trailers (with their 4 tires) have more load force on the roads than these specialized heavy haulers.
    To compare these large loads to the Exxon Valdez is laughable. These heavy loads are just toxic chemicals, no raw oil....just steel. You should check the contents of the semi trailers rumbling through your neighborhood. There would be a lot more damage to your little piece of heaven if one of those crashed and their tank split open.
    Start stating facts and not just your feelings before you start bashing something that you obviously know little about. Call Mammoat (specialists in heavy hauling) and ask them about the facts on hauling these mammoth loads.

  3. NO need for name calling – if you’re scared by what you read here you might want to get more information on the proposed shipments and the plans to make highway 12 a major oversized shipping corridor. The intent of this blog is not to scare, it is to inform. Take a moment to visit where you will find all kinds of facts about the problems these proposed shipments pose.
    No one mentioned the Exxon Valdez – I wonder why you bring it up? Exxon Mobil is the largest shareholder in Imperial Oil, the company who has purchased these oversized loads from Korea and wants to ship them to Canada.
    As to your “fact” that these loads are just steel…no toxic chemicals, no raw oil… - you neglect to take into consideration that these big rigs will be carrying the large amounts of fuel necessary to power their rigs – they’ll also be carrying a hazmat kit on board –possibly because diesel fuel is a hazardous substance. We’ve had other big rigs spill into the river in the past and the clean-up consisted of major road closures and months of clean-up activities.
    As to whether or not one of the rigs currently on the highway would do more damage you forget (or maybe don’t know) that we have tow trucks capable of hauling a regular sized semi-truck out of the river and have done it many times before. The loads being proposed are so heavy(half-a-million-pounds) if they go in the river or get stuck on the road we have nothing capable of pulling them out.
    The Dutch based company that is transporting these loads is called Mammoet. Their idea to distribute the loads has not been proven effective on the exceptionally curvy section of highway 12 between Kooskia, ID and Lolo Pass, nor for that matter on any other part of the highway. Originally a test run was set for May of this year but has continued to be postponed, without any reason given to the public. Without a test run, there is no proof that these rigs will even fit. From our calculations (taking the measurements Mammoet and Imperial Oil have provided and measuring the road) these loads will not fit.
    From the way you write I feel you don’t know this area very well and are being motivated by some factor other than wanting to make sure the roads you drive on daily and use for your livelihood are kept safe. If you have a legitimate reason for supporting this proposal we are open to hearing it, but you might want to take your own advice and “start stating facts and not just your feelings before you start bashing something that you obviously know little about."

  4. I have been down your highway...and it is beautiful country. Being from Alberta, I have seen hundreds of mammoth loads hauled by Mammoet, Premay, and a half dozen other heavy haulers. Mammoet usually hauls the largest loads because they have the most specialized equipment including steerable trailers that are capable of spinning on a dime if necessary so I doubt that they will have any issues manouvering through your scenic route. And again, these trailers have so many axles and tires that the load on the highway is less lbs/sq ft than most trucks on the road. You get more damage to highways by loaded grain and gravel haulers. So if your highway is capable of handling gravel trucks, farm trucks hauling grain and semi trailers hauling fuel, etc....then it will definately hold up to the trailers that Mammoet uses.

    The reason I called you a wing nut, is because you are trying to make an issue about nothing. These trucks move at a pace of about 15 to 25 mph, so they will be in and out of your life in a couple of minutes. A couple of minutes multiplied by 200 loads equals approx. 400 minutes or 6.6 hours. There are 8760 hours in a year and if you are having trouble of the inconvenience of someone taking uo 6.6 hours out of your 8760 hour year....then you are way too busy!
    In regard to the scary thought of something falling down your ravine and you have nothing to lift it....what do you think they are loading and unloading these vessels with? There are cranes that are capable of lifting these heavy loads. Just becasue there is not one in your back yard at the moment should not constitute a panic attack. If an occurrence happens, trust me, they will bring in something that will pick it up.
    Again, stop making something out of nothing. This is the easiest and shortest route, if they could go through Canada, I am sure that would have happened. You have obviosly never driven the mountain passes from BC into Alberta. I trust that the people doing the route planning have made the correct calculations. As I said, I am from Alberta and have seen hundreds of these heavy loads make there way towards the oil sands and as far as I know there have been no incidences with again stop your fear-mongering. They are not carrying any dangerous goods, only steel....lots of steel. And if you are worried about the diesel fuel in the trucks, then you really should get a list of the dangerous chemicals that rumble through your neighborhood everyday...diesel fuel is the least of your worries.

  5. It’s a funny premise – someone from Alberta trying so hard to convince us that we are fear mongering in our attempts to get information about Imperial Oil’s proposed 200+ shipments along our national wild and scenic highway -while at the same time alluding to the fact that the Canadian highways and mountain passes are not suited to these loads. Highways and passes many of us have driven over before for your information.
    Don’t confuse questioning and information gathering as fear mongering.

    There is a traditional route for these shipments – through the Gulf of Mexico and up major highways through the central U.S then into Canada. Just because an oil company wants to save some money by purchasing their equipment cheaper from overseas is not a good reason for us, the rural people of highway 12, to allow our roads and local economies to be jeopardized. Why doesn’t Imperial Oil buy the equipment in Alberta or Montana? Both places make this equipment and have “proven track records”.

    We agree with you that we will be inconvenienced by these loads but disagree with your mathematical deduction of 6.6 hours/year. That assumes that the inconvenienced is in one very small spot and only sees, hears and/or is kept waiting for 2 minutes by any given load. The speeds these loads can travel is between 5mph and 30mph depending on the road – the majority of highway 12 is very curvy and when you factor in the time it takes to pull over to let traffic pass and to re-enter the highway after that traffic has passed 10mph seems more likely. Your calculations do not take into account the effect these shipments could have on our local hunting, fishing and tourism industry – all vital parts of our economy.

    Besides questioning the ability of the trailers to maneuver the road we’ve also questioned the width of the load - which is wider than the road in some places – this is not a road through some field – it is up against a rock wall on one side and drops off sharply into a river on another. This is the only highway in the area and having it blocked for the time it would take to get a crane (which might not fit in the canyon depending on where a rig went in or how it got stuck) could be a life or death situation for someone – this is not mentioned to create fear, simply as the fact that it is – if highway 12 is blocked for any considerable period of time a person in need of immediate medical attention could be delayed in their attempts to get to a hospital which could relate in death. Such a road blockage would also create a major inconvenience lasting well over your 6.6 hours in just a single day.

    What kind of an expert are you to say that our highways will definitely stand up to 200+ of these loads without any wear or tear or potential road problems? Have you studied our turnouts, the ones that Mammoet intends to use to pullover on? I understand from your comments that you are a proud supporter of Mammoet and Imperial Oil and feel these shipments will cause us nothing to worry about. You may “trust that the people doing the route planning have made the correct calculations.” But when we, the people who live along highway 12, look at the calculations obtained from Imperial/Mammoet along with the measurements of highway 12 and our personal knowledge of the road, we question the safety and feasibility of the project.

    We understand there are potential positives in these proposed shipments as well as potential negatives. We are not afraid, nor do we intend to create fear in others. We approach this situation logically by looking at the facts as they apply to our local roads, economies and residents and working for the best outcome.

  6. hwy 12, montana a fellow Montana resident, I am embarraassed by having you as a neighbor.
    Cat401 is right his/her insight on your scare tactics. There are much more dangerous loads carrying caustic, sulpher and many other chemicals barrelling through here daily that would cause a hell of a lot more devastation than these heavy steel loads carrying....steel...not dangerous goods.

    You stand on your soap box and cry that "we are going to be inconvenienced", "why don't those Canadians use their own highways", "why use our highway". Get over it man....did you raise a ruckus when power was introduced in your area also? I bet you like getting into your gas guzzling 4x4 and be able by the fuel and oil needed to run it. Where do you think this oil comes from? There is a massive amount of oil in Canada. Would you rather we support our friendly neighbors to the north or should we keep making our Iraq stronger with US money. We NEED oil to live our can you maybe find it in yourself to accept a bit of inconvenience for the betterment of our lives in the long run. So they are coming down our highway......BIG DEAL. Is this the biggest cause that you can find to write about.

  7. AB Oil while I see that you are embarrased by your "neighbors" you don't show any positives from Imperial Oil using highway 12. To oppose their use of highway 12 does not mean you are opposing the use of oil or not supporting Canadian efforts to extract oil from the tar sands.
    There is already a route in place from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada that is capable of transporting this equipment. THe only reason Exxon Mobil - who owns the majority of shares in Imperial Oil wants to use a new route is to increase their profit.
    As citizens of Idaho and Montana we should be able to look at the proposal that affects our daily lives, our economies and the safety of our road and voice our opinions about it without name calling or bullying those of our neighbors who might disagree.
    While no tanker oil is in this proposed shipment there is a legitimate arguement that allowing 200 of the oversized loads will set a precedent for more use of the highway as an industrial roadway and Imperial may eventually use this same route to take tanker oil out to the Pacific.
    Even with a load carrying only steel there is the potential for a negative environmental impact on the river if one of these loads went into it. Besides the environmental impact there are negative economic consequences as well.
    We can support our neighbors to the north in many ways. Blindly following an oil companies plan that threatens the nature and economy of our area is not one of them. This equipment can be manufactured in Canada or better yet in Billings, Montana. We should look into alternatives that could actually prove a long term positive instead of finding fault with our neighbors over personal views.

  8. write some good words. I took a bit of offence to montana diva words about "being treated like cheap hookers" or "If Canada wants these so bad let them send it on Hwy 3 through Canadian British Columbia themselves" Perhaps montana diva likes supporting Iraq and getting oil from there rather than our friendly neighbors to the north. If montana diva thinks we don't need the oil, then montana diva is also a hypocryte.
    And highway 12 makes me laugh because he thinks these big loads are going to break his highways and dump permanent debris into his river.....scare tactics at best.
    But you, traveler, you put facts into words...I respect that. Thanks for reading my 2bits. I can be reached at