Al Poplawsky, Moscow
The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 12/29/12
The release of the draft environmental impact statement for relocation of U.S. Highway 95 south of Moscow is imminent, and the preferred alternative is the same, old, problematic, eastern route over the shoulder of Paradise Ridge.
A recent editorial in this paper (Daily News, December 13) erroneously referred to the first document for this project as an environmental impact statement (EIS). However, it was actually an environmental assessment (EA) – a much less thorough study and document. The law is clear that an EIS is required for the relocation of a highway to a divided highway. The attempt of the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) to push this project through without an EIS was a blatant attempt at violation of the law.
Environmentalists have been blamed for the deaths and injuries that have occurred on this stretch of Highway 95 since the favorable ruling in their lawsuit. However, we were just trying to uphold the law. We have laws for a reason. Those who criticize us for our efforts are advocating for the breaking of our laws. If the majority of us think a law should be changed, then maybe it should be. But we should not advocate for the breaking of laws that are on the books.
If ITD were truly concerned about safety in this stretch of highway, among other things, they could have reduced the speed limit to 50 miles per hour and enforced it. However, nothing has been done to improve safety since Judge Winmill’s summary judgment. The safest road will be achieved with a comprehensive and defensible EIS.
There are three alternatives in the current DEIS, and a number of safety issues are unique to the chosen eastern alternative. Is ITD really concerned about safety? If you are concerned about safety, be at the public meeting on January 23 and express your concerns.