Like ungainly, 200-ton salmon thrashing in from the sea, another barge-load of enormous mining gear belonging to an oil company has reached as far upstream as the Port of Lewiston on the Snake River.
This brings the total to 20, with as many more expected to reach the port in the next month.
There they await a decision by the Idaho Supreme Court to see if the almost ridiculously outsized cargo (up to 24 feet wide, 30 ft. tall and 210 ft. long) belonging to two oil giants —ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil — can be transferred to truck trailers for passage up and over the narrow, twisty Highway 12 and Lolo Pass.
The oil companies say the National Scenic Byway is the quickest route to the interior for cargo so large it won’t fit through tunnels, underpasses and bridges elsewhere.
Residents are angered the Idaho Transportation Department has been prepping for these loads for nearly two years and the public didn’t know until last spring.
They fear the road will become an industrial corridor as more companies learn of it. Indeed, a recent public records request shows a South Korean oil company was in talks with the ITD to run 40 to 60 megaloads over the highway.