Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The problem with No. 201

Timmerman Junction, where state Highway 75 crosses U.S. Highway 20, is No. 201 on Idaho's funding priority list for improvements.

It's No. 201 despite the fact that on average the intersection is the site of three accidents a year, some in which people have been seriously injured.

It's No. 201 despite the fact that the state just spent $2 million reconstructing the rest stop at the intersection while unable to find money to fix the dangerous intersection because rest stops are funded through a different mechanism than highway improvements.

It's No. 201 despite the fact that every time a crash occurs, Blaine County residents decry the danger and tell anyone who will listen that something must be done to stop the carnage.

It was No. 201 last week when a truck reportedly swerved to miss another vehicle and crashed into a car stopped at the intersection and an innocent driver sustained serious injuries.

It was No. 201 when the results of the Idaho Newspapers Poll released last week showed a third of Idahoans saying that there is no need to do anything now to fund state highway projects.

Just 9 percent favor increasing the state gasoline tax, with 16 percent in support of charging higher truck fees. A quarter want to shift sales tax revenue from tires and vehicle-related purchases to the state road fund. In other words, Idahoans said, "Don't tax us for state highway projects."

The Legislature has been true to them. In good times and bad, that body has refused to invest in better highways—despite pleas from successive governors.

No. 201's problem is more than engineering.

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