Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Plan may reduce highway truck traffic

Proposal would dump excavation debris on state land in Ohio Gulch

Express Staff Writer

Have you ever marveled at the high volume of construction trucks rumbling in both directions along state Highway 75 in the Wood River Valley?

Looking to cut down on this imposing flow of traffic, Chuck Erwin of Erwin Excavation in Bellevue recently asked the Bellevue City Council to support his proposal to establish a new gravel-crushing, storage and recycling operation near the Ohio Gulch Transfer Station northeast of Hailey.

With the amount of building taking place in the upper Wood River Valley, especially in the form of underground parking facilities, the only current option has been to truck the waste south through Bellevue, Erwin told the council at a meeting last Thursday.

Keeping the excavated material up north would reduce truck traffic heading south along the highway, Erwin said.

"It would reduce the flow of traffic through here," he said.

Erwin, who operates a gravel operation in the industrial area south of Bellevue, said the operation would prevent gravel and rock from being wasted and would mitigate heavy truck traffic and fumes along the highway. He recently went before the Blaine County Commission seeking its support for relocating gravel operations to Ohio Gulch.

The approximately 25-acre site is owned by the Idaho Department of Lands and would be leased by Erwin. He said he would negotiate with the state based on the county and Bellevue's opinion of the proposed operation.

Bellevue Councilman Shaun Mahoney agreed that the current situation is far from perfect and indicated he'd likely support the plan.

"I see at least a hundred trips a day (through Bellevue). I think it makes good sense," Mahoney said.

In addition to the reduced traffic and subsequent emissions, there would be the added incentive of royalty fees for every ton carried both in and out of the site. Although no figures were discussed, Erwin suggested that it would offer the state a substantial amount of money.

With every council member agreeing that this would be a positive change, they decided to discuss the proposal further during next week's council meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22.

Despite the council's obvious support, Erwin offered up one final piece of wisdom.

"I'm sure there will be people opposed to it, as there are people opposed to anything proposed."

Express writer Jason Kauffman contributed to this report.

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