Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fix the highway now

    Winter is coming, and state Highway 75 between Ketchum and Hailey should be ready for it. It’s not.
    Portions of the highway north of East Fork were in the middle of being reconstructed and widened when the Beaver Creek Fire hit in August and shut down construction for a couple of weeks.
    Shutdown or no shutdown, it was imperative to put the highway into a reasonably drivable condition before it is covered with ice and snow. The Idaho Department of Transportation and its contractor assured the public that the highway would be functional for the winter, even if it were slow going for travelers.
    Drivers are not engineers, but the highway’s experienced commuters can see that it isn’t going to work well this winter. It’s not just the jagged asphalt chunks that line the highway for a mile or so that are giving drivers heartburn.
    They can see that retaining walls and sound walls will make it difficult to clear the highway of snow and may throw unwary drivers into a game of bumper cars.
    They wonder if the orange barrels that line the highway will remain even on a snowy morning when plows could scatter them willy-nilly and leave drivers to guess at the location of the highway’s edge.
    Will the barrels keep night drivers away from the jagged eastern edge of the unfinished pavement? And what about that deep barrow pit on the west that looks like it’s just waiting to welcome a vehicle to slide in and stand on its headlights?
    Commuters and travelers coming to the area for a day or week of recreation need a lot more help than is evident to date to safely navigate this work-on-hold all winter long.

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