The Idaho Transportation Department issued permits Nov. 10 for over-sized loads to travel from Lewiston, Idaho, to the Montana border on U.S. 12, but the shipments will be suspended until after a hearing officer rules whether an intervention into the process is warranted by interested parties.
ITD Director Brian W. Ness will appoint an independent third-party hearing officer to conduct the administrative process. The department uses hearing officers to settle a variety of administrative claims ranging from drivers license suspensions and bidding, to construction and highway access claims.
Until the preliminary legal matter relating to the Petition to Intervene is heard and resolved by the hearing officer, Ness is staying the validity of the over-legal permits, Ness said in a letter to the parties. Opponents of the shipments sent the letter to the Idaho Business Review and other media outlets.
Linwood Laughy, an opponent of the shipments and one of the petitioners for a contested-case hearing, told the Idaho Business Review that the ITD director’s stay of the permits shows the department intends to follow the steps the Idaho Supreme Court outlined in a decision early this month. The court ruled it had no jurisdiction to overturn a lower court’s denial of the permits, and said opponents did not exhaust administrative remedies before suing.
Laughy said the Transportation Department believed it was necessary to issue the permits, and then stay them, to start the process for a contested-case hearing.
No timeframe has been established for a ruling.
The permits were issued to Emmert International, the contract hauler for ConocoPhillips. ITD’s Motor Vehicle Administrator Alan Frew said the loads meet the state’s legal requirements for an over-legal permit. In the judgment of ITD’s professional staff, Frew said, the loads can be transported safely, without risk to the highways and bridges, with minimal delay to traffic and without disruption to emergency services.