Refinery: Two megaload shipments can move via rail

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The megaload shipments of oil refinery equipment proposed to be trucked through North Idaho just decreased by two-thirds thanks to trains.

Noel Ryan, spokesman for Calumet Specialty Products Partners, told The Press on Friday that the company has learned that it will be able to transport two of the three shipments on hold at the Port of Wilma near Clarkston, Wash. — where they’ve been since December — to its refinery in Great Falls, Mont., via rail instead of highways.

“We are pleased to note that, following recent guidance from the Federal Highway Administration, two of the three loads that we intended to have pass through Idaho by truck are able to pass through by rail, which should minimize any inconvenience for on-road traffic,” a written statement from Calumet states.

Ryan declined to comment on specifics of the rail route and the megaload permit process.

“As part of a significant capacity expansion at our Great Falls, Mont., refinery, Calumet is in the process of transporting large pieces of mechanical equipment by road and rail across multiple states, including Idaho,” the company stated.

“During this process, we have taken great care to consult with multiple local and regional constituencies, together with the appropriate governmental and regulatory authorities, to ensure that these shipments pose little or no inconvenience to the areas we intend to pass through.”

Two haulers — Bigge Crane and Rigging of San Leandro, Calif., and Mammoet USA South of Rosharon, Texas — have tapped consultants to analyze bridges along U.S. 95 north of Coeur d’Alene and Highway 200 near Sandpoint in hopes of acquiring a permit from the Idaho Transportation Department to move equipment via highway.

The U.S. 95/Highway 200 route appears to be the front-runner because a route proposed by Mammoet in December requiring a temporary on-ramp onto Interstate 90 from east Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive triggered a review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The ramp would be needed so the loads could bypass the Veterans Memorial Bridge east of Coeur d’Alene.

Each of the loads will weigh as much as 1.6 million pounds, depending on the trailer size and truck configurations.

Jason Minzghor of ITD said a permit for the highway haul could be issued in as soon as two weeks, depending on when engineering and traffic control reports are submitted to the state to review.

ITD hosted an open house seeking public comment on the temporary on-ramp proposal in December. If the Highway 200 route is chosen, stakeholders along the route will be contacted, but an open house likely won’t be held, Minzghor said.

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