In early January 2013, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) released its U.S. 95 Thorncreek Road to Moscow draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and technical reports on three alternatives for proposed realignment of the dangerously accident-prone 6.5-mile stretch of Highway 95 just south of Moscow. Its preferred E-2 alternative mirrors 10A of the 2002 ITD environmental assessment that the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition and its allies successfully challenged, secured a federal injunction, and forced ITD to complete the current DEIS review process. The purportedly shorter and safer E-2 eastern route would climb 400 to 500 feet up the western, exposed shoulder of scenic Paradise Ridge, while compromising weather-related highway traveler safety, area aesthetics and noise levels, wetland preservation, and protection of rare remnants of native Palouse Prairie habitat and wildlife. It would also inflict the greatest detrimental effects on pine stands, ungulate conservation and collisions, endangered species, and ecosystem restoration, as it imposes more stream tributary crossings, impervious surfaces, pollution runoff, and weed infestations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the Idaho Department of Fish and Game have strongly recommended against this eastern Highway 95 corridor, likely advanced by ITD to accommodate international industrial traffic like tar sands megaloads.
The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition, Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, and concerned Moscow area citizens and groups welcomed public involvement and discussion at the Highway 95 Forum and Field Trip, a knowledge-sharing session in the 1912 Center Great Room in Moscow, followed by E-2 realignment site visits on Saturday, January 19, 2013. Between noon and 2 pm, community members Al Poplawsky, Cass Davis, Tim Hatten, and Brett Haverstick summarized the DEIS, presented arguments in opposition to the eastern alternative, and opened the informational meeting to questions and insights. From 2 until 5 pm, event organizers and participants carpooled and staged a field trip to locations along and near the proposed eastern Highway 95 route described in the DEIS. Several Paradise Ridge residents hosted pertinent site explorations and talks off Eid and Paradise Ridge roads in the sunny, early evening light. For further information about the Highway 95 Forum and Field Trip, see the event descriptions on facebook and on the Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) website. Ongoing issue updates, articles, and interviews appear in the Highway 95 Re-Route section of the WIRT website.
Ellen Roskovich, of Moscow, reviews a poster board with information opposing the Idaho Transportation Department’s proposed E-2 route for U.S. Highway 95 improvements, during a community-led forum on Saturday, January 19, 2013, at the 1912 Center in Moscow (Moscow-Pullman Daily News/Dean Hare photo).
During a forum and field trip about re-route options for U.S. Highway 95 on Saturday, January 19, 2013, Kas Dumroese, center, stands on Eid Road and points to trees on his property that would be eliminated if the Idaho Transportation Department’s Highway 95 E-2 route goes through (Moscow-Pullman Daily News/Dean Hare photo).
Cass Davis points to the trees on Kas Dumroese’s property, not seen in this photo, while standing on Eid Road south of Moscow on Saturday, January 19, 2013. Davis spoke of the elk herd that travels in the area, which the the Idaho Transportation Department’s draft environmental impact statement did not address when ITD recommended the E-2 route for U.S. Highway 95 improvements (Moscow-Pullman Daily News/Dean Hare photo).
During a forum and field trip to the E-2 route on Saturday, January 19, 2013, Robert Clyde, center, of Moscow talks about his support for the Idaho Transportation Department’s recommended E-2 route for U.S. Highway 95 improvements, despite the fact that it would cross his land. The C-3 route would also affect Clyde, as it would go through much of the land that he farms. The E-2 route would not impact his farmland, but would affect prairie lands and some areas with trees that he owns (Moscow-Pullman Daily News/Dean Hare photo).
On Saturday, January 19, 2013, Kas Dumroese, center, talks about the proposed bridge required to traverse Paradise Ridge, behind him, as part of the Idaho Transportation Department’s recommended E-2 route. The half-mile or longer, 70-feet-high bridge would cross Eid Road between Paradise Ridge and south of Moscow (Moscow-Pullman Daily News/Dean Hare photo).
Kas Dumroese, center, points on Saturday, January 19, 2013, to an Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) survey marker where the proposed 70-foot high (at the bottom), half-mile (or longer) bridge of ITD’s E-2 route would cross Eid Road between Paradise Ridge and Moscow (Moscow-Pullman Daily News/Dean Hare photo).
During a community-led forum and E-2 site visit on Saturday, January 19, 2013, at Eid Road south of Moscow, Kas Dumroese, right, talks about how, no matter which route (C-3 or E-2) that the Idaho Transportation Department chooses for the U.S. Highway 95 Thorn Creek Road-to-Moscow improvements, either he or his neighbor Robert Clyde, center, would see significant personal property degradation and loss. Dumroese bought his land from Clyde more than 20 years ago (Moscow-Pullman Daily News/Dean Hare photo).