Wednesday, September 29, 2010

P&Z cool to ITD walls

Panel doesn’t like either design

Express Staff Writer

The retaining and noise-reduction walls proposed south of Ketchum are planned to be designed one of two ways: covered by native stones or by treated timber.

Ketchum's Planning and Zoning Commission voiced opposition Monday to merely being asked which design option it preferred for potential retaining and noise-reduction walls along state Highway 75, and not being consulted as to if it thought the walls necessary.

"I think we're just getting railroaded by ITD," said Commissioner Steve Cook.

The Idaho Transportation Department and the Blaine County Transportation Advisory Committee are seeking community feedback on two design options: timber-faced or textured-stone covered walls. The walls are planned as part of a future expansion of the highway.

Plans call for a 10-foot-high retaining wall more than 200 feet long to be built south of St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center where the west edge of the roadway is close to a hillside. ITD is also proposing a 610-foot-long, 8-foot-tall noise wall adjacent to the Gypsy Mobile Home Park immediately south of St. Luke's. The Blaine County Commission unanimously rejected the noise wall on Aug. 17, but ITD, a state agency, is not bound by local regulation and can still build it.

ITD now wants the Ketchum P&Z to make a design recommendation to its city council to give to ITD.

The P&Z unanimously voted to tell ITD it preferred neither design option but wants to look into boulders to be dry set to form a natural retaining wall. The P&Z said aesthetics are vital in the scenic byway, and that alternative would be the most attractive. If it had to pick, the P&Z said, it would opt for a wall covered in textured stone.

As for the noise-reduction wall, Commissioner Sam Williams suggested a noise study be done to see if it's even needed.

"I think we should be vocal," he said.

Trevon Milliard:

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