Friday, February 21, 2014

Mountain Rides OKs ‘hub’ plan

Board still considering name for Ketchum bus transfer point

Express Staff Writer

The master plan for a Ketchum transportation hub, shown here, was approved Wednesday by the Mountain Rides board of directors.
Courtesy schematic by Eggers Associates

     The Mountain Rides Transportation Authority board of directors voted 7-0 on Wednesday to approve a master plan for design of a Ketchum transportation hub that would serve as a transfer point for Mountain Rides bus routes serving the Sun Valley and Ketchum areas.

     “This isn’t the end of the process, but we’re endorsing this concept and layout,” said Mountain Rides Executive Director Jason Miller, adding that some fine points in the final design are yet to be determined.

     The master plan, developed by a four-company team led by the Eggers Associates architectural firm of Ketchum, shows the design of the hub to be built on both sides of Sun Valley Road where it intersects with East Avenue. The hub will provide parking for up to five Mountain Rides buses, waiting areas with shelters for passengers and “bulbouts” on all four corners of the intersection to provide for safer pedestrian crossing.

     “From a traffic perspective, it really creates a safe environment,” said Ryan Hales, of Hales Engineering in Salt Lake City, a company that is part of the Eggers Associates team. “It minimizes crossing space for pedestrians and reduces exposure time. We’ve gone from 25-seconds crossing times to a 10-second crossing time.”

     Dale Bates, of the Ketchum firm Community Rising/Living Architecture, another team member, said the intersection as it is now is a “faceless intersection” with low visibility to traffic and pedestrians. He said the bulbouts, new signage and art aspects of the hub will provide the intersection with increased visibility and identity.

     Mountain Rides board Chair Susan McBryant described the plan as “fabulous.”

     Miller said the plan is still subject to approval by Ketchum City Council and some details need to be worked out with the city Planning and Zoning Commission.

     Although the master plan is now approved, Mountain Rides board members are still struggling with what to call the hub, or whether to call it a hub at all. The meeting agenda describes the hub as an “intermodal project,” although documents prepared by Eggers Associates still refer to the project as a hub.

     Miller wrote in a memo provided to the board on Wednesday that since the hub is being partially funded as an “intermodal hub” by the Federal Transit Administration, the name must “try to convey that this more than just a bus stop,” when it fact it is a “central bus coordination point in downtown Ketchum.”

Mountain Rides Executive Director Jason Miller, left, presents a commemorative plaque to longtime board member and Chairman Peter Everett, who recently resigned because of health issues. In the background is current board Chair Susan McBryant.
Express photo by Roland Lane

     Mountain Rides received public comment at an open house in January regarding what to name the hub. Suggestions included, The Crossing at Town Square, Ketchum Konnector, Ketchum Hub, Ketchum Station and Ketchum Town Square Bus Stop.

     “My guess is that people will be calling it the hub, so I would support something like the Sun Valley Hub, or the East Avenue Hub,” said McBryant.

     Board member Michael David said he favors the name “The Town Square Hub.”

     No decision was made regarding the name at Wednesday’s meeting.

     The Eggers Associates team has been working on the decision for the past two months under a $90,975 contract with Mountain Rides and the city of Ketchum.

     Miller said it is expected that the project will be put forth for construction bids this spring, possibly in April. However, he said actual construction will likely be delayed until fall to avoid inconvenience in the area during summer peak tourist time.


Peter Everett honored

     In other business, the board honored longtime board member Peter Everett, who served eight years on the panel, most of it as board chair. He tendered his resignation recently because of health problems. Everett was presented with a plaque commemorating his service.

     “I get the pleasure of making this presentation,” Miller said. “I had the personal honor of having Peter as my mentor for the past eight years. Whether we call him the founder, the leader or the godfather of Mountain Rides, he’s all of those. Mountain Rides wouldn’t be what it is now without Peter.”

     McBryant, who became board chair after Everett resigned that post, described him as man “always looking forward.”

     Former board members Jim Jaquet and Curtis Kemp also attended the presentation.

     “It was always a pleasure to work with Peter and he made a lasting impression on transportation in Blaine County,” Jaquet said.

     “I’m very grateful to have made your acquaintance and to have worked with you,” said Kemp.

     Everett said: “I certainly couldn’t have done this without a great board and a great staff. Thank you everyone. It’s just been a delight to work with you and if my health was normal I’d still be here bugging you.”

     The presentation took place at the beginning of the meeting and McBryant invited Everett to stay but he declined.

     “I’ve got grandkids here and they’re skiing out at Dollar and I told them I’d come out and watch,” Everett said.

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