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For the week of June 14 through June 20, 2000

Greenhorn Bridge project changes

ITD says revisions won’t impact environmental process


By KEVIN WISER
Express Staff Writer

The Idaho Transportation Department yesterday announced revisions to the Greenhorn Bridge project dealing mainly with configuration of lane design extending from the bridge and exit and access lanes.

The project includes replacement of the aging bridge and improvements along Highway 75 extending from Alturas Drive to Timber Way.

Revisions, according Devin Rigby, ITD’s Shoshone-based district engineer, include:

  • Construction of a bicycle/pedestrian tunnel at East Fork Road to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety.

  • Highway access improvements at East Fork Road and the new Greenhorn Gulch Road.

  • Provision for safe access to existing public and private approaches to the highway between East Fork and Ohio Gulch.

  • A center turn lane as needed from Starweather to Timber Way except across the bridge.

  • A continuous northbound passing lane from Ohio Gulch through the East Fork intersection transitioning to the existing one lane near Timber Way.

  • Two southbound lanes extending from the existing two southbound lanes north of Timber Way through the East Fork intersection transitioning to one lane before the existing Greenhorn intersection.

  • An 8-foot turning shoulder south of the East Fork intersection to Starweather.

ITD officials recently announced the Greenhorn Bridge project will begin this fall.

Replacing the bridge is seen by highway officials and commuters as a key step toward relieving traffic congestion on busy Highway 75.

The ITD’s plans for this stretch of highway and the environmental study that concluded that the project would not have an adverse affect on the environment has been met with concern by the City of Ketchum and the Citizens Transportation Coalition.

The two entities have contended that the approval of a five-lane highway throughout the Greenhorn project would prejudice the environmental process for the remaining Highway 75 corridor.

However, according to a letter from district engineer Rigby, the design revisions are being implemented to minimize environmental impacts while addressing traffic safety and congestion needs.

"While improving safety and reducing congestion within the project limits, the revised project design will not prejudice future decisions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process," Rigby wrote.

Rigby’s letter and attachments, including a drawing of the proposed new bridge, were e-mailed to media.

In May, the ITD announced that it would go forward with plans to construct a 64-foot bridge that will accommodate two-lanes of northbound and one-lane of southbound traffic. According to Rigby, the bridge will be adaptable to any future reasonable and prudent improvements.

Rigby was not available to comment on his letter. However, ITD senior environmental planner Charles Carnohan said in a telephone interview that the ITD concluded that five-lanes are not required to meet the needs of the Greenhorn project.

Carnohan said a two-lane highway with passing and turning opportunities was sufficient to meet safety and congestion needs.

 

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