Another View on U.S. Highway 95

Victoria Seever, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/30/13

On January 21, I got a tour of Highway 95’s other alignment options, the central and west routes. This is not an easy call. Whichever route, it is essential all ecological mitigations are thoroughly taken and maintained. Social and economic issues remain a huge consideration for individual rights and land use. It’s not as simple as buying out someone who just plops down somewhere else equitably located and available.

It was especially helpful to see the road course for the central route and where it is in relation to the east route.

Hearing firsthand the challenges that occur when a highway cuts through a producing field, like farming equipment accessing those fields, and a firsthand history of land use and conservation on it offers valuable insight.

To the eye, the East and Central routes run not far apart for much of the distance. How much real difference, in long term effect, does that suggest? Both routes put wildlife at variable risk.

Does losing farmland predict overtaking habitat later to replace it? Microclimates between the east route and town differ.

How much difference is there between the east and central routes affecting safety?

There was a good view where the south end of the west route departs and heads west beyond our sight. It seems the less favored choice because of cost, increased distance and losing prime farmland.

Nationwide, roads and housing developments are paving over prime cropland to our detriment. Marginal land is falling to human encroachment or pressed into crop development with poorer yields. Biodiversity and habitat is critical on every level in one way or another.

Ten to 15 years of discussion and still there’s a hard choice ahead of us. I’m still puzzling this out. I encourage others to do the same. It’s an important decision.

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