City, county fund carpool program
Local planner to head up effort
"Theres no quick fix to our transportation problems.
Its going to take time. Its going to take a lot of effort to make a
significant impact over time."
Beth Callister, local transportation planner.
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
The Wood River Valley is about to take a significant step toward its
On Thursday, the Ketchum City Council unanimously approved a $10,635
contract with local transportation planner Beth Callister, who is forming an organization
to promote car pooling as a way of alleviating Highway 75 commuter traffic, and possibly
offer an alternative to highway widening plans.
Additionally, the Blaine County Board of Commissioners recently contracted
with Callister for $1,000 in similar services, and the Idaho Transportation Department
offered $7,500 that is earmarked for a computer and computer software. The KART board
unanimously voted to donate office space equivalent to $2,400.
Callister has also submitted a request to the Sun Valley City Council for
the same amount Ketchum offered. The Sun Valley council probably will consider the matter
at its Aug. 17 meeting at 4 p.m.
Callisters annual salary from the services will be about $22,000,
Callister, 27, has a masters degree in transportation planning from
the University of British Columbia. Shes been a periodic Sun Valley resident for
about 10 years, she said.
Also, Callister is a Community Transportation Coalition (CTC) board
member. The Blaine County CTC has been outspoken in its opposition to highway widening
"I support their (the CTCs) broad mission of making sure the
public is involved in the transportation process," Callister said in a Monday
interview. "Transportation planning as a whole needs to be more comprehensive, and
the CTC tries to promote that."
Of her involvement with the CTC, Callister said she doesnt want to
be pegged as an anti-highway-expansion person.
"I want to back away from that. I want to be proactive, and
thats what this program is," she said.
Callister said that although she doesnt have a formal title for her
new Blaine County ride share program, one possibility is Options for People in
Transportation (OPT). The program will probably get off the ground in October, she said.
"The primary focus for now is ride sharing, but I definitely want to
expand to working actively for regional transit," she said.
She said shell begin by working to increase public awareness of
problems and potential solutions surrounding local transportation.
"Im going to start really slow. Its going to take a while
for people to change their driving habits. Im not expecting too much, because I know
its going to take people a while to change.
"Theres no quick fix to our transportation problems. Its
going to take time. Its going to take a lot of effort to make a significant impact
Callister said that about the first month of her job will also involve
working out a target number of people to participate in the ride share program, and how
much those numbers would alleviate current highway congestion.
When asked how important the city of Sun Valleys pending
contribution is, Callister said that she will have enough money to operate for about six
months without it, during which time she will seek alternative funding sources, whether
Sun Valley chooses to participate or not.
Of the countys $1,000 contribution, Callister said: "I would
hope that in the future the county would become more involved, because it really is a