Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ketchum supports pathways plan

Countywide document aims to link municipalities

Express Staff Writer

    A visionary document linking countywide transportation infrastructure, called the Blaine County Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan, received support from the Ketchum City Council on Monday. It was presented by working group member Jason Miller of Mountain Rides Transportation Authority.
    The plan, finalized in June, focuses on pathways that connect Blaine County municipalities and proximal recreational opportunities. Passing the resolution of support Monday, Miller said, was “step one” toward actualization. The next step is finding representatives from individual cities to join the working group, he said.
    “It’s a collaborative working group that makes it happen,” he said.
    Representatives on the master plan’s working group include Blaine County, the Blaine County Recreation District, Mountain Rides, St. Luke’s Center for Community Health, the Wood River Bicycle Coalition and the cities of Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley.
    The groups listed also provided much of the funding; minutes from an April 2013 County Commission meeting indicated the cost of the master plan would be about $15,000.
    The master plan addresses the positive effects of a seamless bike and pedestrian travel route in Blaine County though economic, health and community building lenses.
    Immediate needs for cyclists and pedestrians, according to the plan, are more connections between different locales and attractions, including the Wood River Trail through Ketchum and the trail’s end at Hulen Meadows to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters. Safety is another necessity for a streamlined transportation system, supporters say, and the plan addresses pedestrian crossings in downtown Ketchum and bike/road sharing on Fourth Street not being wide enough for cyclists. Consistency in design is another focus—“sharrows” are road markings delineating a shared space for bicyclists and drivers and they differ in appearance within Hailey, for example. The final need addressed is amenities: more restrooms on the pathway, parking areas at trailheads and improving the surface of the Harriman Trail are some of the suggestions.
    The plan offers suggestions for bike lanes, shared lanes, bike boxes and separate pathway options for cities to implement. The working group took inspiration for successful road design and signage from other Idaho and U.S. municipalities in their recommendations: the signage used in Boulder, Colo., for example, provides better orientation and direction for motorists and cyclists separately than the wayfinding signage in Ketchum.
    Recommended improvements to the north valley include both initial and ultimate improvement options to give cities the option of prioritization. There are projects suggested for and between individual municipalities—improvements to Ketchum’s Fourth Street, a circuitous connection between River Run and Warm Springs and fixing missing sidewalk links downtown are among the recommendations.
    In Sun Valley, the working group recommends Trail Creek Path improvements, better bike and pedestrian connections to the Community School and crosswalks on Dollar Road.
    The end of the plan evaluates the projects for all four municipalities in order of urgency in terms of connecting missing links, safety and community desire. The group surveyed citizens to determine what the majority deemed most important.
    Improving Broadford Road between Hailey and Bellevue was more popular than every other suggestion at the working group’s mobile workshops—it currently is narrow and has a rough grade, the plan indicates.
    Online surveys pointed toward the necessity of connecting the Wood River Trail and the Harriman Trail and bettering sidewalk conditions in Ketchum and Sun Valley.
    View the master plan in its entirety on the Ketchum City website,
Amy Busek:

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