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MEGALOADS: State careening off road

| December 17, 2010 6:37 AM

There has certainly been much written and much ado about the request for a permit to allow ConocoPhillips to transport four mega-loads of equipment across an Idaho portion of U.S. Highway 12 to Montana. ExxonMobil would like to follow up with a request for 207 additional such loads.

Citizen concerns about emergency access and disruptions due to highway closures during the transportation times have also been well voiced.

I would like to bring another aspect to bear relating to this permit issue. Nowhere have I seen anything relating to the cost of the permit for such a venture. I know a one-day permit for a license for my boat trailer to transport my boat 2 miles to a launch site on U.S 95 costs about $10. Certainly such a trip would not block traffic, nor would it have any potential for harm to the road surface. So, what would the permit for a single mega-load cost?

The State of Idaho Transportation Department, Legislature and governor may be missing a big chance for revenue. During the past legislative session, there was much discussion relating to raising the fuel tax and/or license tab fees to generate monies for road improvements/maintenance. Of course, the legislature and the governor could not agree, so nothing happened. But the need for revenue remains.

Hooray for ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil! Let's suggest a permit fee something along the line of my one-day boat trailer license. The fee should be calculated using the miles to be traveled, the weight of the load, bonding for potential road damage repair and an additional charge for the inconvenience to the general public being denied access to this highway. Now if my boat trailer has a $10 fee, imagine what one of those megaloads should generate!

Get with the program Legislature, governor and Transportation Department! I'm sure that the general public would offer less objection should you show some benefit to the citizens of Idaho and not just the corporations wanting the permit!

DAVID LARSEN

Coeur d'Alene

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