hearing on super-size five-lane
a must-see event in Ketchum next Tuesday. It’s an event that could
change life in the Wood River Valley forever.
the second rubber-hits-the road hearing on the future design of State
Highway 75. The presentation and solicitation of public comments will
take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Kentwood Lodge, 180 S. Main
St., in Ketchum.
session last month left a lot of very serious questions unanswered in
what may be the single greatest development issue in Blaine County since
1936 when the Sun Valley Lodge was finished and skiing began.
great flaw in what’s been presented to date is that Idaho
Transportation Department consultants still cannot tell the public which
options—five-lane with wide shoulders, five-lane plus right-hand turn
lanes and shoulders—will fit within the existing public right of way.
second great flaw is that no options are offered for comparison to the
super-sized five-lane that is fast becoming the only design option.
great flaw is that while the ITD consultants have spent considerable
time and energy collecting population data and drafting pretty highway
cross-sections, they have spent no time delineating the impacts.
consultants say these things will come later.
contrary, they should have accompanied the design options put in front
of the public for comment. They are essential for understanding any new
a highway through the Wood River Valley ought to be like designing a
building for a priceless and beautiful piece of property. The building
design can enhance the beauty around it, or destroy it.
architects look at a piece of property before they begin a design to
figure out how to make a new building work with the property and its
existing neighbors. They figure out how to make it work for the people
who will use it.
never design a big house for a space where only a small one will fit.
They never design a picture window with a view of a brick wall.
never ask owners to choose a design blindfolded. They figure out
tradeoffs required by various designs—before ordering up engineering.
And, they explain the tradeoffs to the owners.
design consultants need to take a page out of the architects’
stands, ITD’s highway consultants are asking members of the public
what kind of doorknobs they want before they even see where the house
will sit on the property and before they know what impacts the house
and desires often change when faced with negative tradeoffs.
example, if asked, most people will say they would love to live in a
large house. If asked, most people will they say they would like to be
able to drive to Ketchum and Hailey faster.
desires may change if people learn that their large dream house is
possible only if the neighbors give up their own backyard and agree to
tear down a shed. Desires may change if the big house means destroying a
lovely stream and a stand of old trees. Desires may change if people
learn that a small house may be more convenient than a large one.
concede that a super-size five-lane design will require widening the
existing right of way in several places.
there is nothing available that shows in any detail where a new highway
would fall inside or outside the existing right of way. There is nothing
that shows whose backyard, berm, fence or home will be affected.
there’s no way to envision what the impacts of a super-sized five-lane
may be. There’s no way to determine the relative advantages or
disadvantages of a smaller thoroughfare.
residents and interested visitors should attend Tuesday’s meeting.
They should refuse to be detoured into discussions of doorknob styles
until they get some answers about the bigger picture.
vigorous public scrutiny will get the valley what it needs: a safe,
efficient highway that will enhance life in this beautiful valley, not