August 10, 2010

To: Doral Hoff, Idaho Transportation Department
cc: Jim Carpenter, ITD District 2; Alan Frew, ITD
cc: C. L. “Butch” Otter, Governor of Idaho

From: Linwood Laughy and Borg Hendrickson, Kooskia, Idaho

ITD Alert #7: Major Issues in the Emmert International [Conoco Phillips] Transportation Plan

In early July, 2010, Emmert International filed a revised transportation plan dated July 2, 2010 with ITD for the transport of  4 ConocoPhillips Coke Drums over Highway 12. This plan fails to address several significant issues, and that failure makes the issuance of an overlegal transportation permit highly questionable. Please note:

1. The proposed transports violate both the intent and requirements of Idaho statutes addressing overlegal and nonreducible vehicles/loads.

2. The axle loads for these shipments— including 43,930 and 45,104 lbs/axle— are over twice the legal limit of 20,000 pounds and will cause more than 16 times the damage to the highway surface and substructure as that of a legal load. It is interesting to note here that in ITD’s report to the Idaho Legislature, January 2010, on the results of the 129,000 Pound Pilot Project in which legal truck load limits were raised to 129,000 lbs., ITD required the installation of additional axles to keep axle load in range of the legal limit. This study makes numerous references to axle load and no references to tire load, the subterfuge phrase being used by the shippers and government officials to claim the giant loads will do “no more damage to the highway than a logging truck,” or in Governor Otter’s terms, “a one-ton pickup.” The weight of the shipments addressed by the EI transportation plan are 518,096 lbs and 646,204 lbs.  involved in these shipments weigh

3. The plan is sorely lacking with respect to the issue of private citizens in private vehicles using U.S. 12 to reach emergency medical treatment at the Clearwater Valley Hospital Emergency Room or for volunteer emergency service personnel to reach duty stations or incident sites from their homes. Of the 4500+ patients treated at the CVH ER last year, 85%  were transported by private vehicle, not by ambulance. Approximately half of these emergency runs were made on U.S. 12. The drivers of these private vehicles will have no contact with the transports or ISP and be traveling in a corridor with extremely limited or nonexistent cell service. The Emmert International statement in the plan that their personnel will treat nonemergency vehicles (which of course may actually be an unofficial emergency vehicle) “with respect” will be little comfort to someone stuck on the highway for 15 minutes or more while bleeding profusely or having a heart attack.

4. The EI transportation plan requires the public to pull off the highway at numerous locations onto gravel turnouts, some directly beside steep drop-offs to the river with no guard rails and weak shoulders, and to do so at night with bright and flashing lights around them. Some of this traffic could easily also be a chip truck, logging truck, other commercial vehicle, motorhome, or other large transport. Many of these turnouts are well under 175 feet in total length. Idaho statutes clearly state the transportation plan for an overlegal, nonreducible load must list locations and mileposts “where the vehicle/load can pull over to allow for traffic relief,” not where the public can pull over for the load to pass. Without forcing the public to use these small gravel pullouts, the distances between turnouts would guarantee that EI would not be able to meet ITD’s maximum traffic delay rule, nor the 10-minute requirement of state statute.

 5. The average speeds listed by EI in order to meet ITD’s well-publicized permit criteria, the 15-minute maximum traffic delay time, are patently overstated. The transportation plan makes clear this is going to be a slow trip, e.g. “Under escort the load will be slowly pulled away along the approved haul route”  or “where additional caution is required due to corners, road width, and proximity to physical obstructions and/or hazards…. These areas are always negotiated at low speeds to again decrease significantly the limited potential for any incident to occur.”  EI’s travel plan lists numerous locations and highway stretches where they will indeed have to “negotiate …at slow speeds.” Their “15 Minute Delay Rule Spreadsheets” provide data from which their claimed average speeds for various sections of highway can be calculated, including on two lane, shoulderless stretches with sharp curves. EI is claiming the following average speeds: 24, 25.2, 26, 26.8, 28, 33.6, 35, and 49 miles per hour. This average speed must include pulling onto the highway from a  turnout, accelerating a 500,000+ load to speed, traversing narrow winding road, decelerating and pulling at least partially off the highway, and clearing traffic past a 500 foot convoy.

6. Our ITD Alert #5, based on EI/CP’s earlier transportation plan, pointed out numerous stretches of highway where the traffic delay time is predictably going to be in the range of 20 to 40 minutes. Items 4 & 5 immediately above greatly extends the number of  available examples. As stated above, ITD’s 15-minute-rule is actually a violation of Idaho statutes, which require a maximum of 10 minutes for traffic delay.

7. Emmert International recognizes the possibility that a load could dislodge, a pavement
give way, or by some other means a load could end up tipped over onto the highway or into the Clearwater, Middlefork or Lochsa River. They have no recovery plan in the event of such an occurrence. They do include the possible use of a crane, a hydraulic gantry, jacks and skidding equipment, but with no specifics other than that their supervisor would be in charge of recovery operations. As addressed in ITD Alert #4, the truth is that no mobile crane could be placed on the majority of the route, especially along those many narrow road miles where an incident of the above kind is likeliest to happen, which is likely the reason they have no plan. The blockage of Highway 12 in Idaho would pose a serious eonomic and social cost to the residents of north central Idaho, and to allow these permits without such a plan would be a dereliction of duty.

 8. Title 67, Chapter 46 of the Idaho Code declares Idaho’s public policy “to engage in a comprehensive program of historic preservation, undertaken at all levels of the government of this state.”  Emmert International/ConocoPhillips plan to transport giant loads within 50 feet of historic buildings on the National Register of Historic Buildings. These loads would also pass near geologic formations that comprise important features of a U. S. National Park and sacred ground to the Nez Perce people.  No claim is made anywhere in the transportation plan that EI has consulted with the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office regarding these shipments. Personal contact with this office confirmed that ITD has also not consulted the SHPO with regards to potential damage to the structures in question. Two of these structures, The First Presbyterian Church and the McBeth House, are within 50 feet of the fog line of U.S. 12, and both structures appear fragile. These two structures are of considerable significance in American and Nez Perce history, as is a basalt arch known as “The Ant and the Yellowjacket” near U. S. 12 at milepost 11 and The Heart of the Monster at milepost 68.2. Scientific information exists with regards to damage to historical structures from ground vibrations caused by heavy loads on nearby highways. The Emmert International transporation plan calls for loads of 646,204 lbs passing through East Kamiah near three of the stuctures at an average speed of 33 mph. The planned speed past the Ant and the Yellowjacket is an unbelievable 49 mph. While not accomplished with a dozer or backhoe, the ground beneath these historic structures will clearly be disturbed. No permits should be issued until consultation occurs with both the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office and the Nez Perce Tribe Historic Preservatoin Office regarding these shipments. Any attempt to circumvent such consultation is at best a violation of the intent of state and federal law.

Many additional reasons exist for ITD to deny the Emmeret International/ConocoPhillips application for an overlegal permit, which Idaho statutes state the ITD MAY issue, AT THEIR DISCRETION. We have addressed several such issues in earlier ITD alerts. Perhaps a summary of Alert #7’s major points can be helpful. ITD should NOT issue the requested permits because:

1. The issuance of these permits would violate both the intent and requirements of Idaho law.

2. The shipments in question would pose a clear risk to Idaho’s citizens and visitors with respect to the acquisition and delivery of emergency services in the Clearwater Valley.

3. The forced use of small, gravel pulloffs without guardrails at night by the public raises safety concerns as well as the ITD requirement that such shipments not overly inconvenience the public.

4. The shipper will be unable to achieve stated average speeds (and it would clearly be unsafe on U. S. 12 to do so), cannot meet Idaho statute’s requirement that traffic delays be no more than 10 minutes, and will not meet even ITD’s stated 15-minute requirement.

6. Emmert International has no plan for dealing with a “tipover incident” and subsequent recovery of a load from a ditch, canyon or river.

7. Research on potential damage to historic structures caused by vibrations from heavy loads appears to have been ignored, and no consultations have occurred with the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office, or likely as well with the Nez Perce Tribal Historic Preservation Office regarding buildings on the National Historic Register nor geologic formations of historic and spiritual significance within a few feet of U.S. 12.



The Rural People of Highway 12

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