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Restoring the Lower Snake River

Port of Lewiston, economics of the waterway, and Highway 12 'megaload' traffic

Spring 2014lmt

The following letters to the editor were published in recent weeks by the Lewiston Morning Tribune concerning the plans, programs, and policies of the Port of Lewiston, sent by residents of Lewiston or nearby communities.

Letter to the Editor #1:
The Port of Lewiston's website says, "...a primary objective of the Port is to encourage economic growth..."  But the port's budgeting money to promote megaload traffic at the port dock and take legal action toward megaload access to U.S.12 veers money away from the port's objective.  

Oh yes, megaloads benefit somebody:  1) Asian equipment manufacturers and 2) the Canadian tarsands corporations for whom the Asians get paid (low wages) to make equipment.  What the port's attempts to lure megaload traffic does primarily is facilitate the export to Asia of what could otherwise be North American manufacturing jobs.

And while facilitating the export of jobs, the port would be helping Canada's corporations damage one of Clearwater country's important industries:  tourism/recreation.  Recreationists and travelers visit scenic places, not industrial truck routes.  The port would also be back-handing our area's 3rd largest employer, the Nez Perce Tribe, which right now is fighting in court to have megaloads banned from the Wild and Scenic Lochsa-Clearwater U.S.12 byway.  The port would further be disregarding the economies and character of downtown Moscow and Coeur d'Alene along U.S.95, for which megaloads have also been proposed.  Along both U.S.95 and U.S.12, the port would be negatively affecting real estate values based upon 'scenic' vs. 'industrial' locations.   

So the port's promotions and legal action get a "none-of-the-above" rating for "economic growth."  Port commissioners need "primary objective" target practice!  All they'll "grow" with megaloads is grating relationships with fellow north central Idahoans, economic instability and decline!

Borg Hendrickson

Letter-to-the-Editor #2:
While Lewiston's port commissioners and manager consider legal action regarding U.S. 12, they need to "see" the larger Lochsa-Clearwater panorama.  The U.S.12 corridor belongs to all Americans in these nationally designated ways:  Wild & Scenic Lochsa, Middlefork Clearwater and Selway rivers, Northwest Passage Scenic Byway, Nez Perce National Historic Trail, Lewis & Clark Historic Trail, Blue Star Memorial Highway (armed forces), Nez Perce National Historical Park, 1 of only 30 All-American Roads, and Adventure Cycling's TransAmerica Trail.

Yes, all the above is what the commissioners and manager would like all Americans to give up so this single port can justify taxpayers' having spent $2.8 million to unnecessarily extend its dock.  Further, the commissioners and manager fail to recognize that dozens of businesspersons all along the U.S.12 route depend upon the thousands of recreationists and tourists who reach local businesses via U.S.12 each year.  Inspired by the above designations, those visitors come to north central Idaho to experience a wild, pristine, historically rich and beautiful place.

They don’t come to look at South Korean metal manufactured into mammoth megaloads being hauled to Canada's tarsands; nor to experience nights of loud noise, bright lights and 20-vehicle industrial convoys; lengthy driving delays overseen by Idaho-trained state police officers who've become hirelings of tar sands corporations; nor to have their cars, pickups, horse trailers and RVs blocked or towed from turnouts those corporations have commandeered.

Sucking monies from taxpayers’ wallets to rescue the port while wrecking north central Idaho's recreation/tourism businesses is not okay.

Jim May of Reflections Inn

Letter-to-the-Editor #3:
Lewiston's port commissioners and manager have turned the port into a real estate operation.  They've done so with your money.  While the port's website brags:  "It Pays to Have a Port," the opposite is true:  It costs!   You!  Through local property taxes, state sales taxes and federal taxes, you subsidize the port's projects and operations. Further, when the port purchases properties, it removes them from property tax roles.  You make up the loss with increases in school, library and city taxes.  Port projects cause that increase.

Now port officials talk of legal action to turn U.S.12 into an industrial truck route for gargantuan equipment headed from Asia to Canada.  In 2010, ExxonMobil alone proposed 207 behemoths, whose 20-vehicle convoys block both lanes and multiple turnouts and cause traffic delays.  The port used $2.8 million of your dollars to extend its dock for such equipment, and now, even though a federal court put the hulks on hold, the port wants to cost residents more -- in legal fees and property value losses.  Losses?  How?

If you own U.S.12-corridor property, it has value based partly upon its being along a scenic byway, two historic trails, a national historical park, and 3 Wild & Scenic Rivers.  Were the port to bring about industrialization of U.S.12, property values will drop. Two upriver real estate agents predict a 20% to 40% drop.

But port commissioners don't care what you lose.  Instead, they merrily concoct more ideas to make the port cost ... cost you.

Vickie Garcia

Letter-to-the-Editor #4:
Earlier this spring, feeling sure hundreds of recreationists would be coming to Clearwater country to enjoy its three Wild and Scenic Rivers during whitewater season, area businesses spruced up and stocked up.  Indeed, recreationists did come and are having a great time!  

Had those businesses' owners not felt sure U.S.12 would remain scenic, and not be industrialized as a megaload truck route to Canada this spring, they would have been hesitant to stock up.  But thanks to north central Idaho citizens the megaloads are 'on hold' for the time being.  Now I see the Port of Lewiston has begun promoting megaload traffic again and setting aside taxpayers' money for legal action to gain access to U.S.12.  I want to know why the port's commissioners think they have the right to decide that the Wild & Scenic river corridor, the scenic byway, two national historic trails, cyclings' TransAmerica Trail, and the historical park should be industrialized, and, as a result, why they think they have a right to damage businesses all along the river that rely on recreationists and tourists.

The U.S.12 corridor is a place for camping, rafting, kayaking, fishing, picnicking, swimming, biking, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, cross-country skiing, birding, identifying wildflowers, taking photographs, and just plain enjoying exceptionally beautiful wild country. Those are the things locals and people from all over the nation and world come here to do.  So get real, Port of Lewiston.  Save your 'legal action' money for something less damaging, more enhancing and productive.

Alan Schonefeld

Letter-to-the-Editor #5:
We are residents on the wild and scenic designated Hwy 12 in Syringa, ID, and have long been opponents of the so-called "megaloads", that is, the use of this pristine, 2 lane, winding road to transport tremendously oversized, overweight loads through this part of Idaho. We oppose totally the continuing efforts of the Port of Lewiston to feather its financial nest, which has had some real "hits" in recent years, by catering to the megaloads transport companies. We do not want our Highway 12 to be turned into a "high and wide" industrial road - it clearly is one thing to have commercial traffic, and we accept and welcome that, but there must be balance and a "line in the sand" drawn by those interested in protecting and enjoying this beautiful area. How can the Port of Lewiston be so bold as to propose millions of dollars be spent in expansion for megaloads that have not yet been permitted to come through Hwy 12? We want to enjoy our property along the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River, not watch it be reduced in value substantially by more megaloads.   

Owen and Mary Ann Fiore

Letter to the Editor #6:

I'm just returning to Idaho after traveling Highway 212 from Crow Agency below Billings, Mont., to just above Belle Fourche, S.D., going to the Midwest and back. I will probably never take that shortcut again.
I came up on slow-moving, oversized units both ways and it was a major pain. People take chances. Speeds went down to 14 mph.
Once, they had pilot cars going way up ahead and stopping traffic to just sit and wait, but I didn't know that. Drivers in pilot cars wanted me to pass by, waving me by. On double yellow lines and curves. What?  I'm not suicidal.
Susan A. Stephens


Letter to the Editor #7:

After watching the live broadcast of the June 9th Lewiston City Council meeting and, in specific, the discussion on the Urban Renewal Agency plan, it was no surprise to see the only persons speaking in favor of the URA's intent were current employees and board members, former employees and board members and entitled individuals who directly benefited from the actions of the URA, including the Port of Lewiston.
It would appear there seems to be an advantage to have been a part of these committees judging by the three areas of development the URA has focused on. This comes as no surprise as this is a lesson in life concerning entitlements all kids learn in junior high school.
My assessment of the Port of Lewiston is that it is akin to a 40-year-old sibling who should be self-sufficient, living in his parents' basement having never left home. If the port wants the city to pave the roads in the port, it should do the same thing it did in Beautiful Downtown Lewiston - plant fast-growing, large trees with heavy, low-lying branches, install huge planter boxes and limit parking to semi-trucks with handicap window stickers only.
Do any of these entities realize the money they are eager to spend is coming from the taxpayers? As I see it, the only ones who realize this were the ones speaking against the URA. These people I praise.
Joe Pearson


Letter to the Editor #8:

Last week's Port of Lewiston budget meeting curtailed citizen participation as is its normal practice.
The port said it wants to hear but it doesn't want to listen.
Twelve citizens tried to voice their questions and objections to the port about their budget and management practices or lack there of.
The attendees were given approximately 75 minutes for comments, discussion and debate - 75 minutes, 12 people and the port took half that time in responding.
The port had a larger agenda than to listen to concerned citizens. It throttled the comments and sent us packing in a little more than an hour.
When is the community going to stand up and correct this unaccountable, supposedly community-driven organization that we are demanded to support financially?
Do you really want to live with this forever?
Rick Rupp

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