E-2 Is Not the Safest Route

Mary and Steve Ullrich, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/21/13

In response to Wayne Olson’s letter damning the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition concerning safety and delay of the U.S. 95 realignment (Daily News, January 16): We of the PRDC sincerely desire a safe Highway 95, as does everyone.

Unfortunately, ITD did nothing to improve safety of the current highway in the interim, not even lowering the speed limit from 60 mph. Three safe alternatives were studied by ITD. Any of these will provide a safer four-lane highway and are deemed “acceptable” to ITD.

According to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, two alternatives, Eastern-2 and Central-3 have similar construction costs, distances (within 0.09 mile) and projected injury/fatal crashes.

The crash projections do not take weather into account, yet ITD reported that 57 percent of the accidents on Highway 95 were weather related. The minimal weather study is flawed; conducted January-May 2005, one of the mildest winters ever.

Unfortunately, ITD continues to promote the E-2 alignment that traverses the highest elevation, destroys the most prime farmland, affects twice as much wetland, affects big game habitat and movement, endangers 24 remnants of original Palouse Prairie, eliminates four acres of pine and creates a larger new footprint. According to ITD’s report, C-3 would provide the best emergency response time to local residents. Note that the 9- to 10-year delay is due to multiple factors. First, ITD could have chosen one of several “acceptable” routes and avoided any delay. Second, ITD did not follow the law that an EIS is required for a revision with a new footprint. Such an EIS could be concluded in about two years. Lastly, ITD admitted funds were not available.

The PRDC promotes ITD’s acceptable C-3 alternative, which avoids endangering Paradise Ridge, Moscow’s unique and ancient mountain. We don’t believe E-2 is the safer route.

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