Highway 12 from Lewiston to Missoula is a pretty and highly scenic drive, but even drivers who are both experienced in mountain travel and driving low-center-of-gravity vehicles will find it a challenge. It has long been used by conventional truck traffic, though car drivers (and a lot of locals) dread spotting one - the clearance is often a little uncomfortable. It is twisting and in some places quite steep.
So the idea of sending indistrial loads so large they take up all of both lanes on this road, from the Port of Lewiston northeast to the oil. fields of Alberta, quickly sounded breathtakingly bad to a lot of people. As of this fall, oil companies planning such shipments had in hand state permits from the Idaho transportation department, and were about to roll when a series of court and other challenges began.
The battle, in courtrooms and hearing rooms, was still underway as the year closed out, though one major development - a hearing officer's report arguing that the shipments should be allowed - arrived just this week.
It will continue into the new year, though: The issue will go back to others at the state department of transportation. And maybe beyond.