Put the brakes on massive trucks on the U.S. 12 corridor in N. Idaho

Most scenic highway in Idaho is not the place for an industrial transportation corridor for tar sands monster modules-

(opinion) Put the brakes on massive trucks on the U.S. 12 corridor in N. Idaho. Pete Zimowsky. Idaho Statesman. Link fixed

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My view.

Butch Otter thinks this is the way to perk up Idaho’s feeble economy. Is closing down Highway 12 the way to do it?

Am I going to visit the Selway, Lochsa, or Lolo this year? Not to spend a day stuck behind oil equipment moving at 5 mph.
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More on July 26. Idaho, Montana Groups Challenge Oil Equipment Transport. By Associated Press.






  1. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    The link to the article is not working

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The broken link is now fixed.

  3. Elk275 Avatar

    Here is another link to a similar story in the Billings Gazette. If this oil field equipment can not be made in the USA or Canada then we have bigger problems than a lack of crude oil.


  4. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    …or barged up the Mississippi and sent across the flatlands into Canada thataway.

    Insanity. The fact they are going to feed those wretched oil shale tar sands projects at Fort MacMurray is infuriating. You know, the ones that are the greatest single point source atmospheric pollution on the planet that are robbing the rivers dry for industrial water that cannot be fully reclaimed of toxicity. Grrrrr………

    By the way , Ralph…this ain;t the only crown jewel scenic hghway about to be commandeered by big trucks. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is going into the gold business. Next June after snowmelt, they will be dispatching somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 heavy tandem belly dump trucks loaded to the max on the route from Cooke City MT east over the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway , a Wyoming state highway. ( Double those truck numbers for the return ” deadhead” runs. ). These trucks will be hauling old goldmine mill tailings 320 miles from Cooke City around to Whitehall MT near Butte , to be reprocessed to extract the gold. A state agency is doing this. $ 1200 / ounce is why. Right in the middle of tourist season on a light duty road with a 3,000 foot climb up a steady 7 percent grade with 7 miles of No Passing .

    Montana DEQ never told Wyoming they were planning this till after the haul bids were opened. They are such a rogue agency these days….

  5. Mike Avatar

    Thanks for the heads up. I’ll be sure to avoid this route in August.

    1. Elk275 Avatar

      All of the trucking will be late at night and it is planned that there will not be a delay in excess of 30 minutes. Regardless this must be stopped. Everything that they need in the oil fields was and can be made in the USA or Cananda. It is just similier for the companies to purchase the product overseas. The hell with American and Canandian workers, one day we will not have the money to purchase there product.

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      Where did you get the info that this will all be late a night?
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      I agree that it is wrong that this stuff is being made in Asia, mostly to haul to Canada. I guess we are just a piece of undeveloped country now that the great industrial powers simply see as empty miles to cross with restive natives in the way.

  6. Elk275 Avatar

    I have read several accounts that these oversized trucks will only be allowed to move at night. I know that from Lolo pass to Lolo they will move at night and through Missoula they will move around to 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. From Lolo pass to Lolo, Montana the homes will be without electricity for up to 12 hours. I may not be pro wolf but the entitlement feeling of a Conoco Phillips is to much for me. If an individual disrupted the Conoco Phillips refinery in Billings for 12 hours they would be tried as a terrorist, place in a federal prison to never see the light of day.

  7. Elk275 Avatar

    Here is a portion of a article from the Missoula

    ++The timing of this was critical, he said. The first two of four ConocoPhillips shipments to Billings are set to leave Lewiston, perhaps as early as next week. But work was still ongoing Wednesday on a bridge east of Lewiston that will have to bear the loads, which will take four nighttime moves along the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers just to get to Montana at Lolo Pass on U.S. Highway 12.++

  8. pointswest Avatar

    I though this is what we paid billions for the Interstate Highway System for.

    Oversized trucks can cause damage to a roadway not designed for them. The truckers might drag their wheels onto shoulders not designed for the weight and it will cause damage to the shoulder bed and pavement the tax payer will eventually pay for.

    Why couldn’t they have shipped by rail? Are the loads that big?

    1. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      The Interstates were designed to transport military equipment, and the majority of them in the country could. The majority of this transport is on US Hwy roads, which are a completely different animal than an interstate, which is why Ike pushed the idea of the interstates….

    2. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      As far as using rail to ship these monsters, there are a number of tunnels that could not handle them, they are just to big…

    3. Elk275 Avatar

      Some of the loads are 350 tons, 28 feet and wide and 300 feet long. The trucks and trailers have 104 wheels. The overpasses on the interstate are not tall enough for the loads.

    4. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      I have also heard, that while on the interstate, they will have to exit and re-enter the interstate at the over passes, and there is great concern if the weight will compromise the overpasses as they go by the cross road, it could collapse the fill under the road as they were not built for these types of loads.

      There is just a hell of a lot of things wrong with this plan, and it should not put our roads in jeopardy, if they want them, let them tear up the Canadian Hwy System…

      Of course the first shipments are bound for Billings, but they should have built a facility in Billings to build them and then install them, instead of coming up with this mess of a plan!!!!

  9. pointswest Avatar

    Eisenhower pushed Congress to pass the Federal Highway Act in the 50’s and his primary motives were for national defense but the system’s design code as part of AASHTO is also meant to facilitate interstate travel and commerce along with industrial shipping and transpiration. It is a multi-use design code with the military being a primary user. Road bed and bridges are load designed for sets of maximum axel weights at specific or at minimum distances. Lateral accelerations, lateral clearances, vertical clearances, and superelevations are all governed by AASHTO for both military and commercial use.

    I am in the construction industry and we run up against size issues all the time. People in the shipping business know the game pretty well and know what can or cannot be shipped down a certain interstate or into a given state or city. The option is always available to make the equipment into smaller more manageable parts. They can bring welders, machinists, engineers, laborers, cranes, and hoisting equipment to the site and assemble smaller parts into larger ones. It is simply a question of cost and what they think local governments will let them get away with. I worked on the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas and it had a large 200′ canopy column about 30′ in diameter. It was broken into two 100′ sections and then welded at the site. The cost issues were 1) the crane cost $2000 per hour and it had to hold the 2nd piece in place for a few of days while it was welded to the 1st piece. 2) The painting or coating at the joint had to done off high reach boom lifts and was expensive. Where the Federal Building was on Las Vegas Blvd., they could not have brought the full 200′ column down Las Vegas Blvd to the site. Even with a rear steering articulated truck, there were corners that could not be managed.

    They could have, at added cost, made that column into three or four sections. They could have done the same with whatever this refinery equipment is (probably blowdown tanks or the like). It is just the added cost of the large crane and the field welding and field painting. They will probably do more damage to the highway than what they saved by not breaking these tanks into smaller sections.

    1. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      Well aware of all that you said PW…

      The key point here, is the people in Idaho and Montana, don’t want them transported through these states..

      The Billings equipment should have been built on site and the stuff destine for the tar sand beds are the responsibility of Canada..

    2. Elk275 Avatar

      All of the equipment could have been made in Billings, Great Falls, Calgary or Edmonton. If we can not build are own equipment then we are a third world country.

    3. pointswest Avatar

      You need a large-scale fabrication shop to build large steel tanks. I don’t know about large mechanical shops since I am not in that industry. There are only a few large-scale structural steel fabrication shops left in the US that serve the construction industry. They are usually quite large and have large and expensive equipment. Cutting, drilling, welding, and finishing of steel that might be 2 inches thick is not something the local blacksmith can do, especially when beams and columns might weigh 20 to 40 tons.

      There is only one steel mill left in the US and all the very large steel mills are in Japan or China.

      So you need a big shop to fabricate large tanks. There might be shops in the US but they might cost substantially more or might not be able to get your order in thier que when you want it. But they could have designed and fabricated these tank/equipment to come in sections and be assembled at the site. It is only a question of added cost.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan