Thursday, May 19, 2011

Drive Our Economy

Jeff Church and Ken Burgess, Coordinators for Drive Our Economy, were in the area last week working to explain the importance permitting the transport of oversized loads to the local and state economy.

By Charlie Pottenger

Drive Our Economy is a co-operative effort supported by individuals, businesses, and business associations, all of which share a common interest in shipping goods and equipment on the highways of Idaho and Montana. Knowing the ultimate importance of transportation to the economic well being of a nation, President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark on their mission to discover a commerce route to the Pacific. Their famous voyage of discovery led to the highway called the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway or the Lewis Clark Trail or the Lolo Trail. This same route which people around here simply call Highway 12

Over the past months in Idaho and Montana the controversy spurred by a few to impede or eliminate the transport of huge items over public roads has heated to a point where there is a danger to all stemming from the notion that the purpose of the state highway system is primarily to enable personal and sightseeing transportation rather than the stated objective to promote commerce and permit the regional economy to flourish.

Drive Our Economy is an association supported by people and businesses which benefit from or participate in the transport of large, oversized Megaload-type items over the highways. Products such as forest products, forest harvesting machinery, agricultural equipment and products, pre-manufactured and mobile homes, mining equipment, ranchers, boat producers as well as the currently controversial oil refinery equipment move regularly over the state’s highways and byways. Each such movement adds to local and state economies and supports countless jobs within the state. It is easy to forget that without commerce and business activity to support the economy, the well being of the population would decline.

In 2010 the Idaho Department of Transportation issued about 65,000 oversized load permits for trips within the state. With the exception of the five megaload permits which have so far safely made the trip over Highway 12 from Lewiston to the Montana line near Lolo, none of these loads were news worthy. However, all including the five megaloads, provided economic values to their owner and the communities through which they passed. Inconvenience was minimal and after they pass they leave no impact other than the positive benefits which all business activity provides to other businesses and individuals along the way. Drive Our Economy urges continued use of the oversized load permit system as currently administered by Idaho Department of Transportation.

Drive our Economy is a task force of community, business and agricultural leaders who have joined together to promote economic strategies that benefit Idaho and Montana. Ken Burgess and Jeff Church, Coordinators for Drive our Economy were in Clearwater County last week and took time to highlight their desire to help people understand the important role area highways play in supporting commerce, business and real jobs in Idaho. Their home base is in Boise and more information can be found on the Web at

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