First megaload passes through Coeur d'Alene

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From wire and local reports

The first of two oversized loads of Exxon Mobil refinery equipment set to leave the Port of Lewiston over a five-day span has moved most of the way through North Idaho.

En route to the oil sands of Alberta, the shipment left at dusk Friday, rolled through Moscow and entered Coeur d'Alene early Saturday morning, according to a company website.

The load traveled onto Interstate 90 and parked near Lookout Pass.

The Idaho Transportation Department on Wednesday issued permits giving the company five days to ship along U.S. Highway 95. It was thought the load would start moving at 10 p.m., and its earlier departure Friday surprised some area residents.

"It was the regular traffic coming through," said Moscow resident David Hall. "It didn't look like a particularly big load at all."

Opposition has forced the oil company to scale down some of the loads and consider alternatives to using U.S. Highway 12 as its preferred route for so-called megaloads, which block both lanes.

In recent months, Exxon Mobil has spent millions of dollars to reduce the size of more than a dozen of the modules delivered to the Port of Lewiston last year. Earlier this month, state highway officials approved permits to truck the smaller loads north along Highway 95 through Moscow.

The first load moving is 17 feet wide, 14 feet high, 81 feet long and weighs 69,550 pounds.

Company spokesman Pius Rolheiser said the load is expected to reach Montana today, traveling at an average speed of 35 mph.

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