The Idaho Transportation Department is raising fees for various oversize load permits, hoping to stem a $645,000 annual deficit in the cost of administering the program.

Vehicle Size and Weight Specialist Regina Phipps said permit fees were last increased in 2007.

We're required to recoup the administrative cost of running the (permitting) program,” Phipps told the Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday. “We did a cost study … that indicates we're $645,000 short of collecting our costs.”

The committee unanimously approved a proposed rule change raising several permit fees by $18 to $70, depending on the type. Most of the increases deal with non-reducible loads, Phipps said, because they take more ITD staff time to evaluate the proposed travel routes, check bridge widths and load limits, and monitor other criteria to ensure the loads can be transported safely.

Language was also added authorizing the department to require reimbursement for “extraordinary services” provided during the planning and permitting of oversize loads that need traffic control plans.

Phipps said that amendment wasn't specifically directed at the Imperial Oil megaloads. Nevertheless, opponents have repeatedly questioned whether ITD was losing money on the megaloads due to the shear volume of permits being requested.

Imperial Oil and other firms have discussed potentially hundreds of oversize loads traveling from Lewiston to Montana and on to Alberta via U.S. 2 and U.S. 95.

In a separate rule change, the committee eliminated language that said oversized loads typically wouldn't be approved if they delayed traffic by more than 10 minutes, as well as a reference capping the width of oversized loads on interstate highways to 24 feet.

The 10-minute limit was a factor in the lawsuit that unsuccessfully challenged four ConocoPhillips megaload permits.

Phipps said the rule was changed to bring it into compliance with a bill approved last session. That legislation dealt specifically with farm equipment, but “once we open a rule, we can do other cleanup,” she said.

A rule requiring oversize loads “to provide for the frequent passing of vehicles” remains in place. ITD “defines that as 15 minutes,” Phipps said.

 

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