Megaloads Headed Through Eastern Oregon

Tar-Sands-Omega-Load

by Larry Meyer / Argus Observer

The first of three planned super-sized loads is scheduled to move through Malheur County and three other Eastern Oregon counties this month on its way from the Port of Umatilla to Canada.

Plans call for the load to travel overnight over the next two weeks to reduce the impact to motorists, with delays of 20 minutes expected as it goes along the route. Because the load will take up both travel lanes while on the two-lane highways, traffic will be stopped along 5- to 7-mile segments, and the transport will pull over every 5 to 7 miles, if needed, to allow backed-up traffic to pass.

Two more loads are expected to come through the area before the end of December, but those dates have not been set.

The load is scheduled to travel through Umatilla, Grant and Baker counties, before reaching Malheur County, west of Ironside on U.S. Highway 26. It will come down to Highway 26 from Pendleton on U.S. Highway 395. After reaching Vale, the procession of pilot cars and transport will go east on Highway 20-26 to Clark Boulevard, where it will turn south on Clark to connect with Oregon Highway 201, west of Nyssa. It will proceed south through Adrian to Homedale (Idaho Highway 19 from the state line).

Total size of the transport vehicle and cargo, being moved by Omega Morgan, a heavy-haul specialist, will be 380 feet long, 23 feet wide and 19 feet tall, with the cargo, water purification equipment and parts, itself being 96 feet long, according to Tom Strandberg, Oregon Department of Transportation Region 5 spokesman.

Because of the height of the load, it could not be routed on Interstate 84 except for a short section between Stanfield and Pendleton where it will be routed around overpasses via freeway on- and off-ramps. The freight will be accompanied by several pilot vehicles to control traffic. The so-called megaload contains no hazardous material fuels and liquids.

“The quickest way is not always a straight line,” said Holly Zander, Leopold Ketel, a marketing firm representing Omega Morton. The possible routes were evaluated mile by mile, studying the tolerances of such things as curves, bridges and other structures, and it is common to have indirect routes.

Originally, the company proposed taking Highway 395 to Burns then taking Oregon Highway 78 to Burns Junction, then north on U.S. Highway 95 into Idaho, Zander said. But it was determined a bridge on that route would not take the load, she said.

Wild Idaho Rising Tide believe this to be a likely route

Wild Idaho Rising Tide believe this to be a likely route

The route through Idaho, beyond Homedale, has not been determined, as various options are still being determined, Zander said.

Adam Rush, of the Idaho Transportation Department, said that bridge approval and traffic controls plans for the move through Idaho are still being worked on, and dates are tentative. He said the dates from one state to the next may not always coincide.

Omega Morgan has faced opposition to moving oversized loads through Idaho and Montana, along U.S. Highway 12, and has been stopped by a injunction by a federal judge, according to news reports. According to a report in the Blue Mountain Eagle in John Day, a General Electric spokeswoman said the equipment to be shipped through Eastern Oregon is not as large as the equipment in northern Idaho.

If you go

A presentation about the moves by an Omega Morgan representative is scheduled for Monday at the Eastern Oregon Area Commission on Transportation. The meeting will begin at 11 a.m. at the ODOT District 14 headquarters, 1390 S.E. First Ave., Ontario.

Larry Meyer is a news reporter at The Argus Observer. He can be reached at (541) 823-4813 or by emailing larrym@argusobserver.com. To comment on this story, go to www.argusobserver.com.

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