Jan 1, 2014 11:00 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News
MISSOULA - A massive load of oilfield equipment is on the move again across southern Idaho following a schedule that could have it crossing the Montana border early this month.
Omega Morgan moved the first of several planned shipments bound for the Alberta oilfields across the controversial route that follows U.S. Highway 12 through the mountainous heart of Idaho, crossing Lolo Pass into Montana last summer.
That's the same route used by other "megaload" shipments over the past couple of years. But this time legal challenges have successfully closed the Loscha-Lolo route.
A U.S. District Court judge has shut down the Highway 12 option - at least until the U.S. Forest Service can finish reviewing whether shipments should be allowed along the Wild and Scenic River Corridor.
But Omega Morgan still has tons of equipment to move, and is now using a much less direct route across eastern Oregon and southern Idaho. Although that route hasn't been through the most mountainous terrain yet, winter weather has brought continual delays, stalling the shipment.
The Idaho Department of Transportation says this latest load is on the move again, stopping as required for the New Years holiday near Fairfield.
The shipment was scheduled to begin moving east again late Wednesday night following a route that will send it on a wide curve to the southeast, following secondary roads before it turns north and heads up the Lemhi Valley. At Salmon, the megaload will hit U.S. Highway 93, navigating the tight curves over Lost Trail Pass before it crosses into Montana.
At last word, Omega Morgan was still waiting for permits from the Montana Department of Transportation to then wind its way down the Bitterroot, turning into the usually followed course up the Blackfoot Valley and on to the Rocky Mountain Front and the eventual crossing into Canada.
Now if the route pans out, expect more shipments. IDT says a second megaload, actually the third in the series, is already crossing Oregon.
KBOI TV photo