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Posts Tagged ‘Alberta Canada’

Kearl Module Transport Project

It’s a classic battle.  On one side are the corporations who would inject millions of dollars into struggling rural economies and justify the action as an economic benefit pitted against National environmental groups who state it will pose a threat to public safety and a risk to the environment.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

If you live in the northwest and have ever made it to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally then you’ve likely traveled over Lolo Pass, (U.S. Highway 12).  I’ve ridden this route several times to and from Sturgis.  In fact, last year our group traveled this route from the East going West and were amazed at the high-quality level of what seemed like freshly laid asphalt.  The route hugs the serpentine banks of the Clearwater and Lochsa Rivers and road signs bear the silhouettes of the 19th-century explorers Lewis and Clark.  There is a particular interesting segment of the highway where you’ll read signs proclaiming the next 99-miles is nothing but S-curves.  And they are not kidding!  The National Scenic Byway is a treasure and one that should to be experienced by motorcycle enthusiasts slowly in appreciation.

So what’s the issue?  Well it’s complicated… a local issue having global impacts.

It’s not well known, but Imperial Oil and ConocoPhillips are planning to ship hundreds of tons of oil equipment up the Columbia River, destined for the Kearl Lake oil sands project near Fort McMurray in Alberta as part of the Kearl Module Transport Project (KMTP).  Once those shipments reach Lewiston on the Washington/Idaho border they will then be loaded on to gigantic, multi-lane wide trucks weighing upwards of 500,000 lbs (semi-trucks generally max out at 80,000 lbs), and from there, the equipment would inch its way along Idaho’s stretch of U.S. 12, through the Clearwater National Forest, into Montana and points beyond (See map above).  These so-called “megaloads” could be up to 3-stories high, occupy 24 feet side-to-side (the full width of U.S. 12) and be 200 feet long.  The companies will spend more $21 million for permits and hundreds of highway modifications to accommodate the loads.

What we have here is a French company shipping Korean-made products on Dutch trucks to a Canadian work-site, that has the potential to destroy one of our most prestigious scenic byways and flagship motorcycle routes in the northwest!

Emmert "Mega-Load" on U.S. Highway 12

I realize it’s easy for anyone, including myself to lob a dismissive one-liner… but, does anyone think this is a one-time occurrence?  I don’t.  In fact, Imperial Oil, hopes to move 207 separate “modules” to Fort McMurray. For each load it will take the trucks nine nights to cover the route through Idaho and Montana.  Sure there were some modifications made and paid for by the companies, including additional pullouts along the route and raised or buried power lines — so the route could handle the shipments — but, the route is being actively marketed as a gateway to a valuable yet relatively undiscovered oversized shipping corridor—primarily utilizing Highway 12 — that ties the Pacific Rim to Canada and the interior U.S.  The Lewiston port’s website states in a section titled “Columbia-Snake Corridor and Highway 12: The West Coast Alternative.”

“The carbon footprint, transportation, permitting and strategic planning costs of utilizing this route [are] significantly less than shipping through alternate marine routes importing into the United States with the same destination.”

As is always the case in these type situations both sides ‘lawyered up’ and in record time it was run through the Idaho Supreme Court who in January ruled/approved 4-shipments through the “permanent” corridor.  More information is available in a well researched and fact-filled article by Alex Sakariassen (Missoulan News) that provides a great overview of the various factors in this issue that impacts Idaho and Montana residents; now and in the future.

Since the ruling, the second “mega-load” left Lewiston last Thursday night.  And as you might expect, winter weather got worse and the “mega-load” was held in position for, as Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) claimed, “routine vehicle maintenance”.  The short journey is now taking at least 11 days!   And if that wasn’t enough to make you scratch your head, Emmert International is using Idaho State Police (ISP) as escorts for the ConocoPhillips mega-load transports.  Emmert is footing the bill, but Idaho lawmakers still have to give their authorization/approval for overtime and associated costs for Idaho troopers to accompany the mega-loads.

Next up is surely a Discovery Channel series…  chronicles of the “mega-load” where the burly, bearded, sleep deprived, derring-do drivers and swashbuckling navigators traverse Lolo Pass with the threat of activists breaking rigs or plunging into the ice-cold river to haul their indispensable cargo to the Canadian oil mines… An ideological conflict and adventure on Monday nights at 9pm central.  Advertising sponsors could be BP and that would bring an end to a great highway for motorcyclists!

UPDATE: February 28, 2011 – According to this report Imperial Oil confirmed that due to weather delays they will be downsizing the 30 “mega-loads” into 60 smaller loads for the freeways and bypassing the more direct route on Hwy 12 through Idaho and Montana.   So, after telling the public for more than a year there were no alternative routes…suddenly the oil company gets slowed down and they find an alternative route…somethings fishy in Idaho!

Photo’s courtesy of Boise Weekly (Emmert); NY Times (Map).

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I was up early this morning thinking about the Arizona law, which takes effect July 29th.  I wouldn’t have been thinking about illegal immigrants, but for the fact that a drunk driver hit a family members parked car last night which meant that for part of my evening it was spent with law enforcement observing their DUI process.  I’ve come away with a new appreciation about a suspect’s immigration status.   More on this in a future post.

As I was saying… there I was shaving thinking about AZ when on KINK radio I heard the DJ’s talk about the large motorcycle rallies planned this weekend and for drivers to be on the lookout for an increase in motorcycle traffic.  Cool!  Nice to see the ODOT motorcycle safety program in action.  I still believe the variable message signs would be a good and highly visible option, but with a pesky ‘just-say-no’ traffic engineer controlling the “ON” switch… radio ads will help.  In addition, ODOT provided the below press release to all major media outlets:

“Share the road safely with motorcycles

With two large motorcycle rallies happening in Oregon this weekend, ODOT is urging drivers and motorcyclists to watch out for each other and share the road safely.

The BMW Motorcycle Owners of America are holding their 2010 international rally in Redmond July 15-18. The Good Vibrations Motorcycle Rally will take place in Salem and Keizer July 16-18. Both rallies are expected to attract hundreds of motorcyclists from around the state and the nation.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re on four wheels or two, we all have to do our part to share the roadways,” said Michele O’Leary, ODOT’s Motorcycle Safety program manager.

A motorcycle is one of the smallest vehicles on our roads, often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. It’s crucial that drivers always make visual checks for motorcycles by double-checking mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes, merging and at intersections.

Motorcyclists have responsibilities too. They should follow the rules of the road, be alert to other drivers, never ride while impaired or distracted, and always wear a helmet and full protective gear.

Although Oregon is far below the national average for motorcycle fatalities, in 2008, 46 motorcyclists lost their lives in crashes in Oregon. That’s far too many family members, friends and neighbors lost in often preventable incidents.

ODOT offers safety tips for drivers and motorcyclists:

Drivers

  • Remember, motorcycles are vehicles with all of the rights and privileges of any other motor vehicle on the roadway. Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width—never try to share a lane.
  • Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Remember that road conditions, which are minor annoyances to passenger vehicles, pose major hazards to motorcyclists.
  • Allow more following distance, three or four seconds, when following a motorcycle, so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. Don’t tailgate.

Motorcyclists

  • Always wear a helmet and protective clothing.
  • Allow time and space to react to other motorists or changing road conditions.
  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Don’t speed.
  • Motorcycle rider training and education save lives. TEAM OREGON offers classes for beginner to advanced riders.

For more information on ODOT’s motorcycle safety program visit www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/motorcyclesafety.shtml.”

Oregon state will have a kaleidoscope of motorcyclists traveling over the roads the next 72 hours.  Drivers might notice our tattoos, leathers and even winch at the exhaust noise, but most of all the riders will appreciate the fact that you took notice and we’ll get home safe!

Update: July 19, 2010 — A early scan of the motor vehicle accident reports suggest that this past rally filled weekend was relatively safe for motorcyclists.  The exception being where OSP was dispatched to an accident involving two motorcycles on Highway 20 near milepost 14. The incident was the result of a bucket which blew out from the back of a pickup onto the roadway.  A 2001 BMW K1200LT motorcycle, operated by BENJAMIN JONSSON, and passenger CARA JONSSON, both age 54, from Spruce Grove, Alberta Canada was westbound on Highway 20 near milepost 14 when they came upon the bucket. BENJAMIN JONSSON was able to successfully swerve and miss the bucket.
However, a 2003 BMW R1150T motorcycle, operated by FREDERICK HERZOFF, age 61, and passenger  as ANNETTE HERZOFF both from Paradise City, California were also westbound traveling some distance behind JONSSON’S motorcycle.  FREDERICK HERZOFF attempted to swerve around the bucket and in doing so crashed into the back of JONSSON’S motorcycle. JONSSON and HERZOFF were not traveling together.
All four riders were transported by ambulance to Saint Charles Hospital in Bend. BENJAMIN and CARA JONSSON sustained minor injuries. FREDERICK HERZOFF sustained serious injuries and ANNETTE HERZOFF critical injuries. All four riders were wearing helmets.

Photo courtesy of ODOT.

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With the prospect of thousands of motorcyclists visiting Oregon roads this coming weekend could it be one of the deadliest?

I hope not, but on July 15 – 18th two major motorcycle rallies take place in Oregon.  The first is the BWM International Rally in Redmond, OR.  It’s been 9 years since the BMW National Rally has been held in the state and area businesses are rolling out the welcome mat.  There is the Redmond 1000 long distance ride (1000 miles in 24 hours) for motorcyclists along with more than 100 vendors who have set up shop on the rally grounds.  In addition, Redmond is the starting point of the 2010 Rally Coast-to-Coast.

BMW National Rally -- Redmond, OR

On the same dates is the Good Vibrations Rally in Salem/Keizer.   Rally activities are happening at Salem Harley-Davidson, Oregon State Fairgrounds, Spirit Mountain Casino, and the cities of Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, and McMinnville.  The Good Vibration event is produced by Randy Burke, President of Road Shows Inc., and is modeled after his very popular Street Vibrations Rally held every year in Reno, NV.  The Oregon rally has the added value of wine tastings at Willamette Valley Vineyards and Orchard Heights Winery.

Northwest Motorcycle Rides

Both rallies bring desperately needed tourist dollars into the state, while providing riders with some fantastic summer weather, Northwest scenery, winding roads and top tier entertainment.  But why has Oregon State Police (OSP) yet to acknowledge the existent of the rallies in their media press release process?  And is ODOT so heads down on pothole repair to plan a state-wide advisory to “WATCH FOR MOTORCYCLES ON THE ROAD” campaign using the variable message signs around the state?

In the last 4 weeks we’ve seen 4 motorcycle related deaths and 2 riders seriously injured on Oregon roads:

1.    On July 10, 2010, a Harley Davidson motorcycle operated by WILLIAM ROY ANDERSON, age 60, from Aloha, was northbound on Highway 97 near milepost 17 when it failed to negotiate a curve and struck a guardrail.  ANDERSON was ejected from the motorcycle onto the highway and then run over by two commercial trucks traveling in opposite directions whose drivers were unable to avoid him.  ANDERSON was pronounced deceased at the scene.

2.    On July 8, 2010, a Harley Davidson motorcycle operated by JAMES C. HEADRICK, age 56, from Dallas, Oregon was northbound on Interstate 205 near milepost 10 when it came upon slowing traffic.  The motorcycle crashed into the back of a stopped 1998 Honda Civic driven by WALID M. SALLOUT, age 28, from southeast Portland, in the left northbound lane.  The motorcycle’s passenger, MELVA HEADRICK, age 61, from Dallas, was ejected off the motorcycle, over the concrete center barrier and landed in the left southbound lane.  No reported deaths from this accident.

3.    On June 26, 2010, a 2003 Harley Davidson operated by RAYMOND SCOTT McMAHON, age 49, from Bandon, was westbound on Highway 42 near milepost 26 followed by his brother on another motorcycle.  McMAHON entered a curve too fast, traveled off the highway into a ditch and then was ejected from the motorcycle as it went airborne.  McMAHON came to rest on the highway and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

4.    On June 17, 2010, JEFFERY DEAN RANDALL, age 39, from Klamath Falls, was operating a 1990 Kawasaki motorcycle eastbound on Highway 140E near milepost 29.  As RANDALL was negotiating a left curve the motorcycle travelled on to the gravel shoulder where he lost control.  The motorcycle crashed into a rock, ejecting RANDALL.  RANDALL was pronounced deceased at the scene.

5.    On June 11, 2010, a 2007 Honda Goldwing three-wheel converted motorcycle operated by DYRL ARNOLD SPENCER, age 64, was southbound on a straight stretch of Highway 395 near milepost 129 when it traveled partially off onto the right gravel shoulder.  SPENCER tried to bring the motorcycle back onto the highway but lost control, crossing both lanes and going off the opposite shoulder where it crashed into a tree about 30 feet off the highway.  SPENCER was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The state generated these stats in one of the wettest early summer riding seasons in 10+ years.  It’s only 3 days until we see a major influx of riders…

Please be careful out there!

UPDATE: July 12, 2010 — I received a response from the Governor’s Advisory Committee on motorcycle safety (Michele O’Leary) which stated there are no plans for the State Traffic Engineer to change the “NO” response on variable message sign use.  Good grief!  I’m starting to wonder if a rally the size of Sturgis would even convince the Oregon State Traffic Engineer to use the signs?!  However, there is more being done about safety awareness:

  1. Billboards are out on Hwy 97 and I-5 at Keizer for motorist awareness.  Radio spots are currently running, bus transits have ads and print ads are running.
  2. They just printed a new motorcycle map that is being made available at both rallies. The map is full of safety messages along with some awesome riding routes,. They also have some other safety information from the advisory committee.
  3. The Chair of the Governor’s Committee (David Peterson) will be at the BMW rally evangelizing safety.
  4. There is work in process on a communication/press release for the motoring public to be aware of what’s going on.

Michele notes: “We’ve been losing a lot of motorcyclists involved in group rides this year so please spread the word and encourage everyone to ride sober. Our concern with the Good Vibrations Rally in Salem/Keizer is the wine-tasting activity they’re doing and what safeguards they will have in place.”

Update: July 19, 2010 — A early scan of the motor vehicle accident reports suggest that this past rally filled weekend was relatively safe for motorcyclists.  The exception being where OSP was dispatched to an accident involving two motorcycles on Highway 20 near milepost 14. The incident was the result of a bucket which blew out from the back of a pickup onto the roadway.  A 2001 BMW K1200LT motorcycle, operated by BENJAMIN JONSSON, and passenger CARA JONSSON, both age 54, from Spruce Grove, Alberta Canada was westbound on Highway 20 near milepost 14 when they came upon the bucket. BENJAMIN JONSSON was able to successfully swerve and miss the bucket.
However, a 2003 BMW R1150T motorcycle, operated by FREDERICK HERZOFF, age 61, and passenger  as ANNETTE HERZOFF both from Paradise City, California were also westbound traveling some distance behind JONSSON’S motorcycle.  FREDERICK HERZOFF attempted to swerve around the bucket and in doing so crashed into the back of JONSSON’S motorcycle. JONSSON and HERZOFF were not traveling together.
All four riders were transported by ambulance to Saint Charles Hospital in Bend. BENJAMIN and CARA JONSSON sustained minor injuries. FREDERICK HERZOFF sustained serious injuries and ANNETTE HERZOFF critical injuries. All four riders were wearing helmets.

Accident information/photo courtesy of OSP.

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