Big Questions for U.S. Highway 95

Victoria Seever, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/21/13

I reviewed a good chunk of the Highway 95 Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the three alternate routes. On paper, it looked to me like one orange and two apples with E2 displacing fewer residences and businesses, a huge consideration in my opinion. Why not go with the Idaho Transportation Department’s preferred E2 route? Answers to my nagging questions may be in the less conspicuous science reports and ITD’s agendas. To learn more, I attended a January 19 forum and field tour. Seeing the actual east route was a mountain of information.

All three routes satisfy safety concerns. We can speak out, repeatedly submit testimony, and change our opinions as needed before public comment ends Feb. 23. I would like to tour the central C3 and west W4 routes. The east route is not looking so good to me now. A few E2 issues follow.

Near and on Paradise Ridge, it was considerably colder, windier and snowier than in town. Freezing fog and drifting snow was woefully neglected in the study. Trucks will be broad-sided by wind adding to road hazards. Distance wise, the east route is about 10 seconds shorter than the Central route?

E2 and C3 cost about the same. How can engineering like a high bridge at the mobile court and lots more new pavement for E2 cost equally? Cheaper taking longer to build it? Cheaper than buying out homes and businesses for access? Cheaper to maintain both a new route and the existing route when C3 uses a lot of current road?

Many environmental impacts and weather are significantly underplayed in the draft. As if the land itself spoke in one striking example, at one tour site, two groups of deer crossed a field where the highway would go, foreshadowing road kill – animal and human.

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