American genius has mastered space
flight, the simultaneous movement of billions of bytes per second on the Internet and even
the cloning of life.
But no such sure-fire whiz-kid solution has yet been devised for an old
demon auto traffic congestion.
For starters, the problem and the solution can be found in the same place
the passionate American love affair for the automobile.
So long as drivers resist giving up their vehicles (the solution), then
roads will be more congested (the problem).
On a smaller scale than the jammed roads in urban areas, the Wood River
Valley is suffering the consequences of auto addiction.
The areas cities are finding parking spaces in short supply, and
Highway 75 between Ketchum and Bellevue is so jammed with traffic going north in the
morning and south in the afternoon that a normal 25-minute commute in that stretch can
become an hour-long adventure.
Not even the widening of Highway 75 is the ultimate answer: traffic jams
would continue as vehicles funneled into downtown city centers of valley communities.
So, encouraging some commuters to abandon their cars and become riders in
car pools offers a giant leap toward easing the problem.
With funds from the city of Ketchum, from Blaine County and the Idaho
Department of Transportation, the Wood River Rideshare project is aggressively recruiting
carpoolers and riders to drastically reduce the number of vehicles using Highway 75. The
projects objective is simplicity itself: to collect names of people interested in
sharing commute rides to and from work, and match the names in a computer database with
Hundreds of car trips per day could be eliminated among drivers who
dont use their vehicles during the day, but merely park and leave them at work and
could share a ride in another car.
For commuters who need to leave work early or for emergencies, not to
worry: Rideshare promises to arrange for cost-free alternate transportation.
The burden for reducing traffic, however, shouldnt fall on commuters
alone. Employers can provide incentives to lure workers out of their cars perhaps
cash bonuses or gifts, as well as staggered work shifts to spread commutes over various
times of the morning and afternoon, even providing carpool vehicles to transport employees
to and from their workplaces.
And theres this not to be overlooked: drivers who give up their cars
to ride in a carpool also are saving the costs of gasoline that can only increase over
In time, if enough drivers demonstrate a willingness to give up their
vehicles for alternate transportation, then other elements may be introduced into traffic
reduction perhaps an intra-valley public transit system.