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For the week of August 2 through 8, 2000

City, county fund carpool program

Local planner to head up effort

"There’s no quick fix to our transportation problems. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take a lot of effort to make a significant impact over time."

Beth Callister, local transportation planner.

Express Staff Writer

The Wood River Valley is about to take a significant step toward its transportation future.

On Thursday, the Ketchum City Council unanimously approved a $10,635 contract with local transportation planner Beth Callister, who is forming an organization to promote car pooling as a way of alleviating Highway 75 commuter traffic, and possibly offer an alternative to highway widening plans.

Additionally, the Blaine County Board of Commissioners recently contracted with Callister for $1,000 in similar services, and the Idaho Transportation Department offered $7,500 that is earmarked for a computer and computer software. The KART board unanimously voted to donate office space equivalent to $2,400.

Callister has also submitted a request to the Sun Valley City Council for the same amount Ketchum offered. The Sun Valley council probably will consider the matter at its Aug. 17 meeting at 4 p.m.

Callister’s annual salary from the services will be about $22,000, she said.

Callister, 27, has a master’s degree in transportation planning from the University of British Columbia. She’s been a periodic Sun Valley resident for about 10 years, she said.

Also, Callister is a Community Transportation Coalition (CTC) board member. The Blaine County CTC has been outspoken in its opposition to highway widening plans.

"I support their (the CTC’s) broad mission of making sure the public is involved in the transportation process," Callister said in a Monday interview. "Transportation planning as a whole needs to be more comprehensive, and the CTC tries to promote that."

Of her involvement with the CTC, Callister said she doesn’t want to be pegged as an anti-highway-expansion person.

"I want to back away from that. I want to be proactive, and that’s what this program is," she said.

Callister said that although she doesn’t have a formal title for her new Blaine County ride share program, one possibility is Options for People in Transportation (OPT). The program will probably get off the ground in October, she said.

"The primary focus for now is ride sharing, but I definitely want to expand to working actively for regional transit," she said.

She said she’ll begin by working to increase public awareness of problems and potential solutions surrounding local transportation.

"I’m going to start really slow. It’s going to take a while for people to change their driving habits. I’m not expecting too much, because I know it’s going to take people a while to change.

"There’s no quick fix to our transportation problems. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take a lot of effort to make a significant impact over time."

Callister said that about the first month of her job will also involve working out a target number of people to participate in the ride share program, and how much those numbers would alleviate current highway congestion.

When asked how important the city of Sun Valley’s pending contribution is, Callister said that she will have enough money to operate for about six months without it, during which time she will seek alternative funding sources, whether Sun Valley chooses to participate or not.

Of the county’s $1,000 contribution, Callister said: "I would hope that in the future the county would become more involved, because it really is a county issue."


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