Forest Service toughens megaload restrictions

Two 644,000-pound evaporators proposed for shipment by Omega Morgan arrived at the Port of Wilma last week. The U.S. Forest Service is toughening up restrictions and saying the loads can not traverse U.S. Highway 12. (Photo by Brett Haverstick)

Clearwater/Nez Perce National Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell late last week amended the criteria by which the U.S. Forest Service will deny megaload shipments on U.S. Highway 12.

In a July 26 letter to the Idaho Transportation Department, Brazell wrote that the Forest Service would adopt ITD’s own review standard, which requires a transportation plan from transporters when their proposed loads exceed 16 feet wide or 150 feet long. This criterion–arguably tougher than his original–now applies along with two other standards: Loads taking more than 12 hours to traverse the highway corridor, and loads requiring modifications to the highway or nearby natural setting are not allowed.

“I would like to reiterate that the Forest Service does not support ITD permitting oversized loads meeting the interim criteria until the impacts of that use on the corridor values is better understood,” Brazell wrote. “…The State’s current position that permits will be issued regardless of the potential for such impacts seems to be in direct conflict with the recent Federal Court Ruling.”

Ruling in favor of Idaho Rivers United, U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill last winter ruled the Forest Service has the authority to exercise jurisdiction over any megaload seeking to traverse through what is a Wild and Scenic River corridor.

“Idaho Rivers United thanks the Forest Service for taking the necessary actions to protect the many values of America’s very first Wild and Scenic River” said IRU Conservation Director Kevin Lewis. “Clearly, the megaload door on U.S. Highway 12 has slammed shut, and shippers of these massive loads need to find another permanent route.”