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Old 10-08-2010, 05:07 PM
 
Location: State of General Disarray
836 posts, read 1,372,390 times
Reputation: 1383

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This is a hot topic around here. Conoco-Phillips is currently awaiting an Idaho Supreme Court decision on whether they should be permitted to drive oversized shipments across US Highway 12 from the Port of Lewiston to a refinery in Billings. Exxon-Mobil also plans to use this route for 207 so-called "big-rig" shipments bound for the oil sands in northern Alberta.

Critics say the winding roads are dangerous for such large loads and that there is great risk of environmental damage as the loads will run straight by the Lochsa and Blackfoot rivers. The roadways will have to be modified to accommodate the loads and the routes will be closed to traffic for stretches of time while the trucks slowly make their way along.

An overview of the project can be read here:

Highway 12: Big rigs set stage for large debate

I posted this video over in the Idaho forum but thought I'd post it here, too, in case anyone is interested:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyPqqUu4ojw

Thoughts?
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Old 10-08-2010, 05:32 PM
 
Location: NW Montana
451 posts, read 916,388 times
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Make sure you 'Google' Montana Highway 35 for all the rigs that have dumped on it over the past many years, and that's just a 35-mile-long stretch with much less traffic.
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Old 10-08-2010, 06:32 PM
 
6,413 posts, read 10,733,433 times
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Thanks for cross-posting it, Strudel! The proposal (according to the video) will only benefit foreign companies, not us. Also, the proposal claims that the transports will only be temporary, but the changes to the infrastructure/environment are permanent. Watch that video, everybody--we should not go quietly into this nightmare...
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Old 10-08-2010, 06:50 PM
 
Location: State of General Disarray
836 posts, read 1,372,390 times
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Montygarlic -- Yeah, I remember a pretty major fuel tanker spill on 35 a year or two ago... weren't residents evacuated? And that was during the day; these big guys will be running at night.

Clark Fork -- I haven't seen much about this on the Montana forum, so wanted to post it here. The Missoulian article points out it will take a year to get all the Exxon shipments up to AB (possibly longer). I do think Exxon is using Idaho and Montana to further their own profits while we end up paying for the infrastructure. I have to wonder what sort of backroom dealings have been going on here.
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Old 10-08-2010, 09:16 PM
 
Location: In The Outland
6,023 posts, read 12,859,736 times
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We must remember that we in Montana pay less in taxes than we get back for our highway maintenance and all and we do need to help lower the cost of petroleum until the alternatives become more mainstream and competitive.
I think the current gas prices are acceptable but they will go up if we stifle the efforts to produce more oil right now.
You all know how politics works and I have no doubt that those big rigs will be rolling through our state.
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Old 10-08-2010, 11:46 PM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,907 posts, read 13,749,539 times
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Okay, I actually read the linked article, which some of y'all apparently did not. This is about moving equipment, NOT about tanker trucks. Have you ever seen a house or barn being moved? Those big old 2-storey houses east of Belgrade were all moved from Bozeman. The big old barn on Nelson Road west of Bozeman came all the way from Three Forks (Trident actually). Do you remember when that big brick office building was moved in Bozeman? Same type of operation. It's a one-shot or occasional disruption, not a continuous problem. As I recall, those 8 big old houses got moved from Bozeman in the space of a couple months, and the world didn't end.

Permit loads pay weight fees to cover damage to the road. If the fees aren't high enough for that, raise them. If there are risks of damage, require a liability bond (not just insurance). The load is going to go one way or another, unless you want to give up your cars sometime in the foreseeable future, when the price of gas gets beyond average folks due to so many restrictions being put on the oil industry that there's no profit in it in North America. Personally I'd rather be beholdin' to Alberta and Exxon-Mobil (the last even partly American-owned oil company) than be at the mercy of Saudi Arabia and China and Shell Oil and British Petroleum. Because THAT is the alternative, if we lose our oil industry entirely. And if that happens and foreign oil gets us by the balls for good and all -- we'll wind up too damned broke to even consider funding the infrastructure to generate alternative energy sources.

Now, a better alternative would be if the heavy equipment was built right here in Montana and Alberta, not in Korea -- but we've already driven all our heavy manufacturing out of America.

Do you sense a trend? I sure do.

.
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Old 10-09-2010, 12:09 AM
 
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It's valuable to hear alternative viewpoints; I'm always willing to listen to good arguments. Indeed the plan calls for mega-loads of heavy equipment, not tanker trucks (a tanker truck did spill oil along the Lochsa recently, but that's another story), but those mega-loads themselves on a long, narrow and winding road will change that road forever. I'm actually very pro-business--I''m just worried about that particular route they've chosen, along the Lochsa, a designated "wild and scenic river" with immense natural and historic value (Lewis and Clark). There are other possible routes, Highway 12 is just more direct, and thus cheaper. But the potential negative impact in the long run, to a unique part of the NW, with more and more mega-loads coming in (because it will most likely continue, once it gets started) is what worries me. Here's today's news:
More mega-loads proposed for Highway 12 - Spokesman.com - Oct. 8, 2010
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Old 10-09-2010, 02:17 AM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,907 posts, read 13,749,539 times
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200+ loads is certainly significant, and I think the whole thing needs to be studied in complete depth before a decision is made.

Power lines can be taken down, then restrung after the load passes -- this is routinely done with oversized loads. (Moving the poles seems a better option if you're going to do it repeatedly.) The main problem for megaloads is overpasses. If it weren't for that, most would go straight down the nearest Interstate -- which are loaded with overpasses by design, and sometimes the trick of avoiding a low overpass by getting off, then back on across the exit, isn't available or is blocked by some projection. At any rate, part of the routing process for an oversized load is charting all obstacles that can or can't be moved. It would be useful to compare major vs minor routes for relative number of obstacles.

[When the aforementioned barn was moved, it went past my place and I happened to be coming home right after it -- I have a nifty photo here somewhere. I asked the guys who were moving it why it went by this unlikely and roundabout backroad route, and it was because there was something projecting over the highway at some point that made it impassable for such a large load -- I vaguely recall it was a powerline that was impractical to disconnect, or too many of them or something like that.]

I do wonder what a traffic comparison would show, of using the Interstate vs the older highways. Which would actually be more disruptive to more people? I'd guess the Interstate probably gets about 10 times the traffic per lane, and a much higher percentage of truck traffic -- disrupting that is not only an economic disruption on the recipient's end with potential loss of perishable goods, but can also cost the truck driver (effectively making him work for free or even at a loss). That sort of economic factor needs to be considered too.

My own experience is that Hwy 12 across Idaho is generally all but deserted, compared to I-90. I haven't gone that way since ?1977? (it was still two-lane all the way; per the webcam it appears to have been substantially rebuilt since then), but at the time I didn't see another vehicle from the last little berg in ID all the way to Hwy 93, other than a paving crew at the top of Lolo Pass. However, I've also seen Lolo Pass with half the asphalt gone after a hard winter. I do question its structural integrity under repeated loads of this magnitude, and whether the mountainside underneath can support the repeated load without sustaining hidden structural damage. That's less likely to be a consideration on an Interstate, as they don't cling precariously to a high-rise goat track the way some older mountain roads do.

I don't think the tourism argument holds as much economic water. If anything, there's likely to be a considerable visitor component standing around gawking and going "Oooh, awesome!" A smart operator would promote it as a sight you won't see every day and may never see again.

It does seem to me that there were assumptions made too early, that locked them into routing via Lewiston ID -- if roads were the only factor, it probably would have made more sense to go up via Moses Lake and Spokane instead, thus avoiding all the serious goat tracks. In looking at the map, once you're to Lewiston you're kind of locked into Hwy 12, either that or some serious backtracking (hundreds of miles worth since the alternate routes out of there are probably not even doable for such loads). Assuming that Hwy 12 would be a feasible route seems to have been part of the bargain, and it may prove otherwise.

My cynical little voice informs me that the real moral of the story is never build good roads. If you build it, they will come.


My other cynical little voice wants to know where they plan to get the locomotive they'll need to haul 600,000 pounds up that grade at more than 2 mph.
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Old 10-09-2010, 02:41 AM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,907 posts, read 13,749,539 times
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About the "environmental damage" thing: I think this is largely a red herring thrown out by those who wish to block ALL economic development related to natural resources. This wouldn't be the first time a mondo load has gone down the back roads -- many a time a dramatically oversized load has passed in the dark hours, and most people never knew, other than that the power was out for a while during the night. It's not like the megaload suddenly decides to randomly trundle off the road and across the landscape. And power lines don't get moved to the other side of the county; they get moved to the edge of the existing easement, most likely a distance of about ten feet to a spot that is already part of the cleared right-of-way. Bridges and roadbeds are already routinely repaired, replaced, and improved. The view changes for half an hour as the parade goes by, then changes back to what it was before. So where's the damage?
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Old 10-09-2010, 09:14 AM
 
Location: NW Montana
451 posts, read 916,388 times
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Quote:
200+ loads is certainly significant, and I think the whole thing needs to be studied in complete depth before a decision is made.
Bingo! And when that decision is made, it would be great if there could be some consideration of not only the environment 'risks' (if any), but also the potential economic pros and cons.

But as you said, it becomes a political situation which doesn't mean anything sensible will come of it..
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