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For the week of Oct. 6, 1999 through Oct. 12, 1999

Trick or treat?


Will a new highway in the valley be a trick, or a treat?

The only way to make sure it’s a treat is to go to an open house to be held at the Wood River Middle School in Hailey from 4 to 8 p.m. tomorrow.

This will be the third and final Highway 75 Corridor Study meeting. The Idaho Transportation Department and consulting firm CH2M Hill will attempt to answer questions and address concerns of Wood River Valley residents.

The open house is part of the process being used by the ITD to create a new highway design for the Wood River Valley.

At the meeting, residents will see retouched photographs showing how a preferred design would look if built. They will be able to review traffic projections. They will be asked to record their comments and concerns about the preferred design.

We have high hopes for the open house.

For the first time, we hope to see accurate and detailed views of highway plans. We also hope to see accurate representations of the total width of the highway relative to its existing path, along with shoulders and clear zones.

We hope to see how the preferred design works with the already approved stretch of highway.

The consulting firm says it will incorporate comments from the meeting in its final report to the ITD. It says the final study will be released only to the ITD and to the Blaine County Highway 75 Steering Committee, which may use the study as they see fit.

We hope they see fit to hold public hearings on the final report before graders and pavers are invited in. We hope somebody will finally discuss the reasons alternative forms of transportation are not options.

The members of the steering committee, which has advised the consulting company during the process, are ITD senior planner Bob Humphrey, Blaine County Commissioner Len Harlig, Ketchum City Councilwoman Sue Noel, and Bellevue Mayor Steve Fairbrother. Hailey has not had a representative on the committee since city administrator Darryl James left his job. Since January, the committee has met three times in private meetings with the consulting firm.

Residents need to participate in highway planning meetings like this one to make sure they don’t wake up one morning to find the valley disfigured by a poorly planned and executed freeway. Doubling and tripling the size of the existing highway, installing a total of 21 stoplights, and changing traffic flow on Main Streets—all proposed--will affect the quality of life up and down the valley.

When it comes to the highway, nothing should be left to the imagination. Nothing should be decided in private. Nothing should be a surprise.

 

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