Megaload draws mostly yawns in Arco

Few locals are likely to turn out to see it pass through.

(IDAHO FALLS) POST REGISTERDecember 31, 2013 

Steve Thomas talks about the logistics of moving something as large as the megaload Saturday at Pickle’s Place in Arco.

PAT SUTPHIN — psutphin@postregister.com

  • The megaload stopped at Cat Creek Summit on U.S. 20 on Monday and was scheduled to resume its slow journey at 10 p.m. Monday.

    It will then stay put for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, following the conditions of its permit. Travel will resume after 10 p.m. Thursday, weather permitting.

    A second Omega Morgan equipment shipment, now traveling east through Oregon, is expected to enter Idaho on Thursday.

ARCO — No mega-anger here. No mega-fear. Not even a hint of mega-apprehension.

The folks who enjoyed breakfast at Pickle’s Place — the locals and those on their way to someplace else — appeared perfectly relaxed.

One woman’s brow furrowed before she answered a question about what she thinks of the megaload.

“Oh, I don’t even play the lottery,” she said.

That response wasn’t typical.

Most of those who make their homes in this Butte County community of roughly 942 have heard about the megaload. And most know the Omega Morgan transport company’s monster rig — carrying a 450-ton load of oil refinery equipment that measures 376 feet long and stands nearly as tall as a two-story building — will soon pass through town.

So, are they shaking their fists? Or shaking in their boots?

“It really isn’t that big of a deal,” Jack’s Travel Plaza cashier Valerie Babcock said. “I haven’t heard anyone say anything about it at all.”

Juel Lambert, who works at Lost River Drug, agreed.

“I haven’t heard a lot of talk about it. All we’ve heard is that it’s coming through here,” he said.

Besides, Arco is no stranger to big trucks carrying big loads.

“We’ve seen those windmill tower trucks come through,” Jay VanEtten said. “Usually, it’s hay trucks. One time, someone brought a big boat through here going somewhere.”

VanEtten works at Nathan’s Service Center and Lost River Honda in Arco.

“(But) I haven’t heard anybody talking about (the megaload),” he said.

The oversized load that’s bound for the tar sands of Alberta began its journey in Oregon. As it moved through the state, the megaload sparked protests by Native American tribes and environmentalists at odds with the oil and gas industry.

It has also become a bit of a tourist attraction, with its own band of groupies traveling to have their photos taken with the massive prop. When it parked for Christmas at its first Idaho roost, between Homedale and Marsing, Owyhee County officials had to warn tourists they could be ticketed for jaywalking or illegal parking.

After Arco, the megaload will pass through Leadore and Salmon and on to Montana.

Lemhi County officials previously voiced concerns about the mammoth load. It takes up two lanes of travel as it moves down the highway. It is also 300 feet longer than the only bridge providing motorized access between the east and west sides of Salmon.

Back at Pickle’s Place, Boise trucker Steve Thomas insisted that no one in Arco, Salmon or anywhere else along the route had anything to worry about.

“They move at a snail’s pace. Everything has been engineered. Everything has been planned and plotted,” Thomas said. “The people who are (complaining) about it, don’t really understand it.”

Thomas and Brenda Johnson stopped at the eatery Saturday en route to Dubois. Johnson admitted she was curious about the megaload and keeping an eye on its movements.

“I’d like to see it,” she said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.”

For those living in Arco, that could mean getting up at 4 or 5 in the morning, when the megaload may come through town before making a right turn at the junction of Highways 20, 26 and 93.

“Not me,” Babcock said. “I’m not getting up in the middle of the night.”

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