Sunday, August 11, 2013

Megaload Creates Delay and Protest in the Wild and Scenic Corridor

Thursday night, as the enroute Omega Morgan megaload crawled up Hwy.12 alongside the Wild and Scenic Middlefork Clearwater and Lochsa Rivers, approx. 75 people protested for over an hour at Fish Creek, Hwy.12 Milepost 120.  
At Fish Creek, as per its ITD-approved transport plan, Omega Morgan was required to cross Fish Creek Bridge by unhitching the transport's trucks and using a pull-cable.  By unhitching the trucks, the 644,000 lb. transport was reduced in weight to a point that ITD had determined would not likely damage or break the bridge.  The Fish Creek bridge is listed as a 'bridge of concern.'  
All traffic was blocked for 1 hour 20 minutes during the staging and crossing, while the actual crossing took 43 minutes.  All was observed by the protesters, including 4 NPTEC members and Idaho Rivers United Director Bill Sedivy, and recorded by a Fighting Goliath video camera.

In part because of its overnighting at Syringa, the transport was in the Lochsa-Clearwater Wild & Scenic corridor for 30 hours.  It's actual travel time was 13 hours.  You will recall that 1 of the 3 criteria that would trigger USFS review of megaload permits is that a transport not "require more than 12 hours to traverse US Highway 12 between MP 74 and 174."  However, ITD issued Omega Morgan a permit for the load regardless of the USFS criteria, and Omega Morgan pushed its way into the corridor with complete disregard for the criteria and Federal law.

Early Friday morning, as the transport navigated up the mountainside miles to Lolo Pass, it blocked all traffic, including several commercial trucks and a total of 20+ vehicles, for 40 minutes before crossing into Montana at 7:52 a.m
Idaho Rivers United & the Nez Perce Tribe File New Lawsuit Against the U.S. Forest Service
The lawsuit charges that the U.S. Forest Service’s failure to stop a megaload from entering the river corridor was “arbitrary, capricious, (and) an abuse of discretion.”  Read the full press release

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