Montana This Morning

Feb 14, 2011 8:48 AM by Allyson Weller (KPAX News)

First Montana megaload draws a crowd

LOLO HOT SPRINGS - Over 100 people stopped to look at the Conoco Phillips load that's resting in Montana on Sunday and while there were some protesters present at the scene, which is just eight miles past the Idaho-Montana border, others just wanted to take pictures of the first megaload.

Security stood by the Conoco Phillips megaload as people gathered to voice their opinions about the big rigs traveling through Montana.

"It's really not good for the economy and they're just furthering our dependence on oil which we should be moving toward a clean energy future," commented Missoula resident Bryan Nickerson.

"We need to make sure that we are actively participating in the process that allows them to move through our country," added University of Montana professor Katie Kane.

"I can't imagine this being good for outfitters and the serenity and beauty of Montana, the reason why people are attracted to coming to Montana," Missoula resident Lowell Chandler told us over the weekend.

People driving up U.S. Highway 12 were curious about the mega load and pulled over to take pictures and check out the guarded equipment.

"There are probably some benefits and it's important to realize that, but I don't think it outweighs the problems," Missoula resident Kip Beckwith commented.

"Seeing it against the backdrop of our wild country is really really shocking and disheartening," Kane added.

"Emmert is an Oregon-based company and the people that they hire are not Montanan's and not Idahoans, there's no benefit at all," Lowell contended.

Some supporters of the megaloads at the protest didn't want to be quoted by name, but did tell us that the big rig shipments are good for the Montana economy, and are also important for the jobs they're needed for.

Lolo hotel owner Ashish Patel told us last week that the shipments are business during a tough part of the year.

"This is a really good thing for my business. In the winter during January, February and March we are really slow. They pretty much sold me out and it creates jobs for housekeepers and the front desk."

An Idaho Transportation Department official says the load took about two weeks to wind across Idaho on U.S. Highway 12 and they're now waiting for a second load to arrive before they continue to travel through Lolo, Missoula and across Montana.

It's unknown at this time how long it will take for the second load to cross into Montana.

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