ago, Walter Kulash, a nationally respected veteran traffic engineer told
a packed house that a well-engineered three-lane highway could carry as
much traffic as efficiently and safely as a larger highway.
the myths that urban roadways like State Highway 75 through the Wood
River Valley are inherently safer or faster with more travel lanes.
years later a new three-lane highway is nowhere to be found as an option
for State Highway 75.
for the Idaho Transportation Department are showing off reams of
renderings with options for the configuration of five lanes up the
valley. Yet, there’s nothing in the way of a better three-lane.
consultants maintain that a three-lane is still an option, albeit an
invisible one. The option needs to be made visible.
designed these days, three-lane and five-lane highways are misnamed. All
are bigger than their descriptions.
three-lane highway includes two lanes of travel, a center turn lane,
right turn lanes at key access points, shoulders and clear zones as wide
as travel lanes.
five-lane highway includes all of these plus two more travel lanes.
designs will be the subject of a second public meeting in Ketchum in
July. The designs depict a highway that will be a little less than 45
yards wide—nearly half a football field in some places.
example, people who live west of the highway are wondering how they and
their kids will ever be able to cross five lanes of high-speed traffic
to get to the valley’s bike trail, which is on the east side.
also unclear if the existing highway right of way is wide enough to
accommodate a five-lane the length of the valley. No one has yet
revealed where additional rights-of-way would have to be purchased or
what the impact would be to adjacent neighborhoods.
city officials are wondering what will happen when two lanes turn to one
lane just before the narrow bridge over Trail Creek. They also are
wondering what the new highway will mean for downtown given that
consultants are suggesting that the city should look at Second Avenue to
divert traffic from Main Street.
public officials have assumed that a future valley-wide bus system will
be feasible only with a five-lane highway. However, a five-lane highway
that encourages car travel will make a mass transit system less likely,
not more likely, in the five years or so it will take for a new
five-lane to fill up.
public shouldn’t be asked to offer its opinion while blindfolded. The
consequences for the valley’s quality of life are too serious. Wise
consideration is possible only if there’s a good alternate plan for
consultants should provide facts and design options for a
well-engineered three-lane. They should provide an honest demonstration
of why it will—or won’t—work.
valley deserves to be able to explore all the options and have a clear
picture of the consequences of any new design¾before the bulldozers