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Posts tagged as “roads”

First take/roads

It's been most of three years since I last rode the streets of Idaho Falls and Pocatello. However kind the interim has been to me, it's been hell on the roads.

I haven't noticed it so much in southwestern Idaho - the roads around Boise wear down too, but in a normal way - but the eastern sector roads were coming apart. Yes, this is pothole season, with relatively warm weather following a significant amount of snow and ice, remnants of which are still visible in the eastern cities. But those roads are in a bad way.

The sheer number and ugliness of road holes, and rugged, coming-apart surfaces, are striking, at present the worst I would point to around the Northwest. Not the only bad roads, but the worst overall.

Not sure what accounts for this. But let's hope the highway planners get ambitious about this are this year. - rs

Travel plans: I'm in Twin Falls as this is written. I'll be on the morning talk show at KLIX around 8:15, and at noon at the new Twin Falls visitor center to sign books.

First take

The Lewiston Tribune reports this morning about the Manning Crevice Bridge, in some ways the major remnant of the biggest highway project never finished in Idaho history. To get to the bridge, you travel east from Riggins (which is on Highway 95) about 14 miles; what you encounter is an 80-year-old bridge across the Salmon River badly in need of repair if it's to be continued in use. The bridge is the easternmost main development in what was intended to be a road running east along the Salmon River all the way to North Fork, just a few highway miles north of the city of Salmon - creating a highway link between the two parts of Idaho, west and east. It's a fascinating thought, and would likely have become a wonderful drive, had it been built. It might also have discouraged wilderness area designations in that in-between area. And there is this to consider: We don't necessarily need roads between everywhere. Not many people, only a few, really would have had much need of the Riggins-Salmon road. As a connector between Salmon (which isn't a large population center to start with), it would not have been an improvement on the current main route between the two, which runs through Idaho City, Stanley and Challis - the two routes would have taken about the same amount of time. It would have only a little quicker than the current route from Salmon to Lewiston over route 12, and no benefit at all headed to up Spokane and Coeur d'Alene. The story today used to phrase "road to nowhere," which isn't right; but "road to why" might be applicable. - rs

“Still at a funding crisis in transportation”

Probably shouldn't have been a big surprise, but the reports indicate that the core transportation strategic planners - mainly out of the office of Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter - really were thrown by the House rejection today of his proposed gas tax increase. Evidently, a number of House members were surprised too.

The debate was fairly closely split between the two sides but the vote wasn't close, at 27-43, with Democrats making some of the strongest anti-tax arguments. (Ponder that a moment: small-l libertarian Otter pushing a tax increase that the Democrats said was unaffordable.) Republican leadership couldn't push it through.

Representative Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, was quoted as saying, “I’ll continue to work with the governor’s office to see if there’s another proposal that would be acceptable, because the problem is not going to go away." It isn't. But keep watch and see if, in the days ahead, there are attempts to re-frame it - maybe as indicating that road spending, apart from what's already being paid for, is something that might be shifted toward the back burner.