LEWISTON – More than 80 oversized loads will depart the Port of Lewiston bound for Canada over the next 2.5 months, with the first load scheduled to leave next week. Richards Transportation is in the process of delivering windmill blades to Jenner, Alberta, with the largest loads measuring up to 325 feet long and weighing 137,000 pounds.
“This first load is the only one currently scheduled and will provide an opportunity to refine the transportation plans,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “After the initial run, we expect operations to increase in frequency.”
Nine loads will depart each week in groups of three from the Port of Lewiston to travel north on U.S. Highway 95 to Coeur d’Alene before heading east on Interstate 90 into Montana. Three loads are expected to leave every other day, with each individual load departing roughly 30 minutes apart.
Pilot cars will escort each load on the one-night journey, with flaggers in place to close the following intersections:
• State Highway 128 and US-12/US-95 in Lewiston
• US-95 and Lincoln Avenue/Walnut Way in Coeur d’Alene
• the I-90 and US-95 interchange in Coeur d’Alene.
Drivers can expect delays as the loads move through these intersections at night. The transportation company arranged for a new on-ramp to help oversized loads make the turn from northbound US-95 onto eastbound I-90 in Coeur d’Alene. This ramp will not be open for other traffic. Traffic on the interstate will be slowed down by pilot cars to allow each load to merge.
Given the length of the loads, navigating to and through Moscow will be especially slow-going and will require significant closures.
The two-lane section of US-95 between Thorn Creek and Moscow will be closed as loads travel through for an estimated 30 minutes each. Timing of the closures will vary but could start around 9 p.m. Traffic will be allowed to pass before each subsequent closure.
“That section of US-95 is windy and narrow, and the loads will not be able to make those turns without taking up part of the oncoming lane, so we are shutting it down,” Hopkins said.
Each night loads depart the port, no parking will be allowed in Moscow starting at 6 p.m. on the following streets:
• Washington Street north of the US-95/SH-8 intersection to where southbound and northbound US-95 reconnects at the north end of Moscow.
• Near the Main Street and A Street intersection.
While loads move through Moscow on US-95/Washington Street, traffic will be unable to pass. It could take up to an hour for each load to pass through.
“Given the extreme length of these loads and how narrow the highway section is in Moscow, the transport company will move each load at walking pace with staff on the ground to ensure that nothing next to the road is damaged,” Hopkins said.
Weather may impact the schedule. Traffic impacts will be identified on 511.idaho.gov.