Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mountain Rides narrows options for Ketchum transit hub

Sites on Sun Valley Road and on Washington and East avenues remain on the table

Express Staff Writer

Jim Finch, operations manager for Mountain Rides Transportation Authority, discusses potential Ketchum transit hub locations with community member Julie Johnson at an open house in October. Mountain Rides has since narrowed site options from six to three and plans another open house in February for further public involvement in the site selection process. Photo by Mountain Express

Not only is Mountain Rides Transportation Authority interested in building a South Valley Transportation Center, most likely in Hailey, but the organization has also been working for about the past year to establish a transit hub for the north valley in Ketchum.

Mountain Rides unveiled six potential sites to the public at an open house in October, but has now narrowed the list to only three, including a site on East Avenue, another on Sun Valley Road and a third on Washington Avenue. The three remaining sites for the hub were announced at a Dec. 19 meeting of the Mountain Rides board of directors.

Gone from further consideration are sites on First Avenue, at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Main Street and at the intersection of Walnut Street and Sun Valley Road.

Mountain Rides Executive Director Jason Miller said the organization will gather more public comment on the three remaining alternatives at another public house tentatively planned for February.

The East Avenue site, official referred to as site four, would be established in east Ketchum on East Avenue between Sun Valley Road and Second Street. The site was originally proposed as the only option when Mountain Rides first announced its plan to build a Ketchum hub last winter. Use of the site, however, met with significant adverse public comment, leading Mountain Rides to consider other potential locations in the city.

Nonetheless, site four remains in the mix.

The Sun Valley Road site, officially known as site five, would be established in east Ketchum on Sun Valley Road on either side of its intersection with East Avenue. The plan for site five requires closing portions of East Avenue on either side of Sun Valley Road and allowing pedestrian-only traffic. Turnarounds would be built in East Avenue to accommodate vehicle traffic where the road would be closed.

The Washington Avenue site, officially known as site two, would be established in west Ketchum south of the intersection of Washington Avenue and Second Street.

Whichever site is selected, plans call for parking spaces for up to six buses with three on either side of the street. There would also be bus and passenger shelters and a small building with public restrooms and an information center. A transit hub would serve as a central location for facilitating passenger transfers between the Mountain Rides Ketchum-Sun Valley bus service and the organization’s Valley Route, which runs from Ketchum and Sun Valley south through Hailey and to Bellevue.

In other business at the Dec. 19 board meeting, it was decided to change the times for regular monthly meetings. Instead of starting at noon, meetings beginning in January will start at 4 p.m. Meetings are typically held on the third Wednesday of each month at Ketchum City Hall council chambers.

The board unanimously elected new officers for 2013-14. Beginning in January, Susan McBryant, representing the city of Hailey, will be board chair. Mark Gilbert, representing the city of Sun Valley will be vice chair and Steve Wolper, an at-large board member, will be secretary.

Terry Smith:

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