Posted: Mar 8, 2011 7:12 AM by Mark Thorsell & Dennis Bragg - KPAX News
LOLO - The intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and U.S. Highway 93 was a hub of activity at around 5 a.m. on Tuesday as a megaload moved through the center of Lolo. Flaggers were handling the early morning traffic while at least a half dozen utility trucks worked to make sure everything was working again after the big rig rolled into town.
There was a wrinkle in the plans...just one megaload came through town after the second was stalled due to mechanical issues. That one big rig had to be off the road by 6 a.m., and they just made it. But before the deadline, traffic was feeling the brunt of the big rig's movement, with delays on Highway 93 stretching for at least two miles back into Lolo
The loads were parked together for the first time in Monday just east of Lolo Hot Springs on Monday. The first megaload had been parked for three weeks, waiting for the second drum to navigate the twists and turns of Highway 12 west of Lolo Pass, a trip that had been plagued with bad weather.
Crews spent Monday checking over the loads, making sure everything was all set to for both loads to finally leave the mountains behind. In Idaho, only one load can travel at a time. But in Montana the loads can travel in tandem and that would allow the company to make up for lost time.
The two loads got ready to move out at midnight with flaggers and state troopers in place as well as utility crews had dropped overhead lines. But when the first load finally got rolling after 1:30 it was all by itself. The second of the four shipments was able to start late, but got rolling. However mechanical problems kept the first load stuck in the mountains.
That's going to force ConocoPhillips to once more adjust their plans, since they had been hoping both loads could be ready to travel through Missoula on Tuesday night.