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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of Jan 30 - Feb 5, 2002


Build the highway

Chamber audience told itís time

Express Staff Writer

Build the new four-lane highway.

This was the clear and straightforward message Jan. 23 offered by a panel of the countyís mayors and a county commissioner at issues-oriented breakfast.

The Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber of Commerce sponsored the county issues breakfast held in the Sawtooth Room of the Elkhorn Resort.

On the panel were Blaine County Commission Chairwoman Mary Ann Mix, Hailey Mayor Al Lindley, Bellevue Mayor John Barton, Carey Mayor Rick Baird, Ketchum Mayor Ed Simon and Sun Valley Mayor Dave Wilson.

But the panelists were not arguing for just a four-lane highway.

For the new highway to handle the growing traffic, they said, it would need north- and southbound high-occupancy-vehicle lanes, the Wood River Rideshare program and a valley-wide rapid transit system.

In addition to these components, "disincentives" to driving cars into Ketchum were needed.

Disincentives was the word Simon used to describe a way to discourage people from driving their personal vehicles into Ketchum.

"The highway problem ends up in Ketchum," he said.

Paid parking, on Ketchumís streets and in yet-to-be-built underground parking lots, is frequently suggested as a disincentive.

Airport traffic and noise was also discussed at the breakfast.

Baird, who wears two hats as the mayor of Carey and manager of Friedman Memorial Airport, told the audience he would like to see three things happen at the airport.

The first is to solve the Stage 2 jet aircraft noise, which Baird described as "ear bleeding loud."

The second is to have a no-fly curfew for the airport from midnight to 6 a.m.

The third is to have the transponder landing system, or TLS, in place.

TLS uses radio signals from the ground to direct pilots how to position their aircraft while landing.

TLS enables a pilot to land when there is a cloud ceiling as low as 400 feet with as little as one-mile visibility.

In a 1998 interview, Baird said the TLS system would decrease the number of flights diverted from Friedman to Twin Falls because of inclement weather.

Sun Valley Mayor Wilson fielded a question from the audience about a rail system to move Wood River Valley commuters.

"It wonít work," he said, "and youíre kidding yourselves if you think it will. A rail system would cost $1 million a mile."

Ketchum Mayor Simon agreed. "We need to move on to an HOV lane."

Baird told a story to make a point about the growing pains of Blaine County.

As the airport manager, he was sitting in on an interview to hire someone from Arco.

The man said he couldnít move to take the job because house prices in Carey were "outrageous."

"I guess Carey has arrived," Baird quipped.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.