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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of Jan 29 - Feb 4, 2003


Leave Bellevue
speeds alone

While the rest of the world is talking about whether or not the U.S. will go to war against Iraq, and while Idaho tries to survive a looming surge of red ink, Rep. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, is worried about the speed limit on Bellevue’s Main Street.

So peeved is Smith about Bellevue’s 25-mph speed limit, he is pushing a bill in the Idaho Legislature that would remove the right of all Idaho cities to set the limits on state highways that run through their town.

Smith says he likes the idea of 35 mph on the four-lanes of Main Street. He says 25 mph in Bellevue is too slow.

For whom?

For the kids and other pedestrians who must cross the four-lane expanse without any stoplights?

Smith has never shown up at a Bellevue City Council meeting to object to the speed limit. Yet, he wants to return the authority for deciding speed limits in Bellevue—and any other stretch of state highway that runs through small communities—to state engineers.

Smith alleges that small communities set speed limits based on emotion not traffic studies. He’s right.

The problem is most of the highway engineers live in Boise. And, let’s face it, the primary goal of engineers is to figure out how to get a car from point A to point B as fast and cheaply as possible.

Boise engineers don’t see Bellevue kids in the summer trying to figure out how fast they have to dash on foot or by bicycle to get across the streaming lanes of uncontrolled traffic. They don’t see senior citizens or the disabled give up in frustration as they realize they can’t traverse the asphalt without endangering their lives.

But whose town is it anyway? Not the engineers’. Not Rep. Leon Smith’s.

The whole idea that State Highway 75 through the Wood River Valley is a highway at all is part of Smith’s problem.

It’s a highway in name only, and it’s becoming less a highway with every step of the planning process now under way.

Most people in the West believe highways are high-speed thoroughfares where vehicles may travel relatively unimpeded from point to point. That’s clearly not the condition of State Highway 75 in the Wood River Valley today.

The highway is a clogged artery in a narrow valley from Timmerman Hill to Ketchum.

While the state’s own consultants are working out plans to make the highway a multi-lane affair, they also admit that a wider highway won’t be a faster highway because stoplights will multiply along with the valley’s population.

What will Rep. Smith do about that?

The good representative should confine his speed planning efforts to Twin Falls and leave Bellevue and other rural communities alone.

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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.