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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8065 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. 
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

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For the week of June 6 - June 12, 2001

  Editorials

ITDís breach of trust


Seven lanes instead of five lanes for the East Fork intersection of the Greenhorn Gulch highway project wonít fly, the Blaine County Transportation Advisory Committee told the Idaho Transportation Department last week.

Seven lanes? What seven lanes?

Without fanfare, without discussion, the ITD had apparently seen fit to paste two right-turn lanes on to the five-lane expansion.

It was a breach of trust.

All of a sudden, the project had gone from 73 feet of asphalt to 96 feet. Without fanfare, without discussion, without general public knowledge.

Every foot of the expansion, which is under construction, had been publicly dissected and debated for two years before construction began.

The ITD issued press release after press release that outlined the specifics of the project.

Announcement of the project kicked off public debate over the size of the bridge expansion, environmental impacts and the larger issue of improvements to State Highway 75 from Timmerman Hill to Ketchum.

The Ketchum City Council got involved and consulted with its own highway engineers. Citizens formed a transportation coalition that brought in nationally recognized highway consultants who presented their advice. Public meetings were held.

Local public officials worked hard to restore trust between the public and the ITD, trust that had been shattered by a freeway proposal for the valley in 1974.

By the time the Greenhorn widening project got underway this spring, it seemed it was well understood by the public.

Yet, somewhere someday some faceless ITD engineer decided to change the plan and add 24 more feet of asphalt to the narrow valley floor. Whatís worse, the ITD is now trying to portray the original publicly vetted plan as a reduction of the original plan.

Say what?

When the Transportation Advisory Committee woke up to the ballooning highway and the fact that it violated the painstakingly woven public trust, it rightly recommended that the ITD stick to its original plan.

We wonder what ITD was going to tell the public when seven lanes instead of five lanes were built?

Does the ITD really think the Idaho education system is so poor that citizens canít count? Does it believe that government of the people by the people suddenly morphed into government by engineers for engineers?

Does it really believe members of the public are so foolish it can convince them that seven lanes is what was planned and discussed all along?

Will its next act be to try to sell us the new bridge the public has already paid for?

Trust is a two-way street. Itís a shame the ITD tried to make it a one-way dead end.

 


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.