Highway corridor study is sales tool
What did we learn at the last open house of the Highway
75 Corridor Study?
We learned the study is misnamed. It is not a study at all, but a sales
tool designed to sell a giant highway as the only answer to the valleys traffic
If the study were really a study, we would have learned a lot.
Heres a list of what we didnt learn:
How safety on a five-lane highway compares to safety on three-lane
roads with lower speed limits.
Why the greater margin of safety afforded by a second traffic lane
into which cars may swerve to avoid hazards isnt offset by the danger of a 55 mph
highway butted up against power poles.
Where trees, homes or buildings would have to be moved or removed.
For example, what will happen to the old Rheinheimer farm house near Ketchum?
How a nearly 50-yard-wide highway will affect valley vistas--the
artists renderings were not to scale.
Strategies to reduce congestion.
We did learn that with enough artistic license, a major five-laner can
be shoved into a two-or three-lane space. Too bad we havent met the engineers who
can do that.
The study failed to ask the "what if" questions.
For example, what if:
Ketchum imposed pay parking all over town tomorrow?
A valley-wide bus system were running?
People lived closer to their jobs?
Five hundred units of affordable housingthe amount researchers
say is neededwere built in the northern part of the county?
Communities identified labor-intensive businesses that dont
need a Ketchum location and helped them re-locate to Hailey or Bellevue?
The county encouraged flex-time work schedules that dont put
everyone on the highway at the same time?
The traffic mix were studied to find out who is on the highway and
where they are going most days? There may be answers to be found here.
The county forced connections between subdivisions so that everyone
isnt forced onto the highway for even a simple trip to the grocery store?
Neighborhood grocery stores were allowed in the county?
The 15 stoplights contemplated for the future were installed now to
increase safe access onto and across the highway?
The speed limit were reduced now to improve safety?
The county conducted a traffic education program, let people see
congestion numbers and helped them schedule travel at off-peak times?
Theres no question Highway 75 needs improvement. Theres no
question its time to address traffic congestion.
However, whether this year or 10 years from now, the valley will have
to find traffic solutions more innovative than laying more asphalt.
If a little outside-the-box thinking isnt applied soon, the
valley will become just another beautiful place destroyed when King Car rules.