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The fact there are environmental protests shadowing a mega load of oil refinery equipment on its way to Canadian oil sands had nothing to do with why Councilman Fred Waidely placed the topic on the Salmon City Council’s December 4 meeting agenda.

Waidely explained the mega load is 380 feet long, weighs 901,000 pounds (450 tons) and will be crossing the Main Street Salmon Bridge which is 400 feet long. That means the entire weight of the load will be on the bridge at one time. Even though bridge engineers say the bridge will be fine, Waidely’s focus is on ‘what if’ preparedness.

He suggested the city and the county work together to make sure adequate emergency services are posted on each end of the bridge whenever the load arrives. Those services would include EMT’s, fire equipment, law enforcement and Public Works crews just in case any emergency repairs are needed during the time the bridge is blocked. Waidely also recommended having an ambulance standing by on both sides of the river to answer any medical calls. In the event someone on the west side needed to get to the hospital the patient could be transported across the walking bridge to an ambulance on the east side.

Councilman Jim Baker pointed out that the bridge is not a single span, it is in fact three bridges support wise. His concern is the lack of information being given to local officials by the company hauling the load.

The load being hauled by Omega Morgan Company is moving only at night and is coming from the Port of Umatilla, Oregon. In Idaho it will travel State Highway 28 to reach Salmon then take Highway 93 North over Lost Trail Pass to Montana and onward to Alberta. Canada. The circuitous path is the result of a federal injunction blocking mega load transport on Highway 12 in northern Idaho.

The route through Salmon means the mega load will also be crossing the Carmen Bridge. Waidely said that in answer to a recent newspaper article, the Carmen Bridge has had much repair work done since a report was issued saying that it needed work.

Waidely said the situation also brings up a lot of questions about who would pay for any damages to the bridge and in a later Public Comment period Dave Gussky asked who will pay overtime for paid personnel on duty and who will pay for traffic lights to be moved if they have to be.

Mayor Leo Marshall asked that someone from the council attend an EMS meeting on December 9 to discuss preparedness. Waidely said he will talk with Lemhi County Emergency Services Director Janet Nelson and Fire Chief Mike Warner.

Two more mega shipments are scheduled after this one but exact dates have not been announced.

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