(Helena, MT-Jackie Yamanaka, YPR) – Winter weather has delayed the megaloads being trucked from the Port of Lewiston, Idaho to a refinery in Billings, Montana.
Megaloads are giant trucks that have been described as “heavier than the Statue of Liberty, nearly as long as a football field, wider than the roads that they’re actually traveling on, and three stories high.”
A so-called megaload of refinery equipment bound for a ConocoPhillips refinery in Billings is just east of the Idaho-Montana border, poised to make a circuitous 500-odd mile trip from the Lolo National Forest, and winding up to Roy, before making its way back down to a refinery near Billings.
Since about mid-February, one load has been waiting near Lolo Hot Springs near the ID-MT border. The plan is to move all of the loads together to lessen disruptions.
The delay, however, is giving people time to get a first hand look at the loads.
Idaho residents Heather Rebal and Jason Meyer stopped at the pullout to get a first-hand look at the coke drum shipment.
“I think it’s cool,” says Rebal. “I’d like to see it going down the road.”
This load is half of a 300-ton coke drum. It’s about three-stories high and 226-feet long. Delays are limited to 15 minutes for traffic. Meyer says that wouldn’t bother him.
“It would be slow, but you gotta do what you gotta do,” he says. “How else are they going to get it there?”
Montana Department of Transportation Director Jim Lynch says he’s impressed with how ConocoPhillips and its transport contractor Emmert International are handling the shipments.
Lynch says moving such large loads are not new for Montana.
“We permit a lot of megaloads,” he says. “This is not the first megaload that has been permitted or that the Montana public has seen. I don’t want to make the Montana public think this is something that has never happened in Montana. It happens on a regular basis.”
But some Montana residents would like to change that. Earlier this month one legislator introduced a bill that would have required special-use permits for megaloads. It's not expected, though, that the legislature will take action on it.
Lynch says once the entire load is consolidated the shipment will be escorted by the Montana Highway Patrol and representatives of his agency to make sure the transport is taking place according to the conditions of the permit.