Friday, March 28, 2008

Taking the foot off the gas

Express Staff Writer

This rise in Trail Creek Road, near the new Sun Valley Gun Club, was seen by the Sun Valley Planning & Zoning Commission as one of the reasons for decreasing the speed limit from 45 miles per hour to 35 mph along the 1.5 mile stretch. Photo by David N. Seelig

Thanks in part to the amount of development by Sun Valley Co. taking place along Trail Creek Road, the city of Sun Valley is considering reducing the speed limit along a portion of the road from 45 miles per hour to 35 mph.

At its meeting on Thursday, March 27, the Sun Valley Planning and Zoning Commission approved the decrease, though its input was not required by law.

"The council could have done this of their volition," said City Attorney Rand Peebles. "However, this gives a better opportunity for public comment, and the council can feel comfortable that the commission has looked at the issue in relation to new development."

The new development in question includes the newly relocated Sun Valley Gun Club, renovation of the Trail Creek Cabin restaurant, the nine-hole Gun Club Nine golf course extension, the new Sun Valley Golf and Nordic Center, and potentially 395 residential units as part of the Gun Club subdivision.

In fact, the direct impetus for the change came from a condition of the Golf and Nordic Center design review, which said the resort would work with the city and the Idaho Transportation Department to lower vehicle speeds in the area.

The affected stretch of road would be from the old Gun Club shooting range site, northeast of Sun Valley Village, to the city limit near Boundary Campground. The approximately 1.5 mile portion of Trail Creek Road currently has a 45-mph speed limit.

"I think this makes a lot of sense," Commissioner John Gaeddert said. "There's a rise right before the Gun Club that makes it difficult to see traffic."

Also identified by the city's contract engineer, CH2MHill, was a specific line-of-site safety issue for the entrance of the new Golf and Nordic Center, which necessitated either a reduction in speed or a redesign of the project.

The danger coming on and off Trail Creek Road was further emphasized by Commissioner John O'Connor.

"It's a speedway out there," O'Connor said. "When you're pulling out of the (Sun Valley Lodge) or the gas station, the cars are coming at you lickety-split."

The three commissioners unanimously supported recommending the change to the City Council, which will hear the issue at an upcoming meeting whose date has yet to be determined.

If the council approves the ordinance, ITD will have 30 days to post the new limit.

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