Reflections on ITD U.S. Highway 95 Realignment Hearing


Mary Ullrich, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/25/13

In reflecting on testimony at Wednesday’s Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) hearing in Moscow, I would like to say a few things.  First, I do need to express great compassion for all those who stand to be affected adversely.  I sincerely hope that you will be compensated fairly and well by ITD.

For those who told stories of accidents and dangers on Reisenauer Hill, I hope that section of the highway will be redone to state and federal standards. This would be accomplished by going with Alignment C-3. Keep in mind if E-2 is built, the current highway will remain as it is (only as a county road) and many, especially local people, will be using that old highway.

For those who pleaded that ITD lower speed limits, add some center-line “rumble strips” and some carefully placed signage, I hope ITD will hear this loud and clear and take immediate action.

Let’s work together to make this happen now.

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U.S. Highway 95 Reroute Opinions Differ


Bruce and Colleen Bumgarner, left, look at maps of proposed routes for the U.S. Highway 95 Thorncreek Road to Moscow Project during an Idaho Transportation Department hearing at the Best Western Plus University Inn in Moscow on Wednesday (Moscow-Pullman Daily News/Geoff Crimmins photo).

Bruce and Colleen Bumgarner, left, look at maps of proposed routes for the U.S. Highway 95 Thorncreek Road to Moscow Project during an Idaho Transportation Department hearing at the Best Western Plus University Inn in Moscow on Wednesday (Moscow-Pullman Daily News/Geoff Crimmins photo).

US 95 Hearing 2 - Daily News Geoff Crimmins

At the University Inn in Moscow on Wednesday (Moscow-Pullman Daily News/Geoff Crimmins photo)

Jack Flack, left, speaks during an open-microphone session at an Idaho Transportation Department hearing at the Best Western Plus University Inn in Moscow on Wednesday (Moscow-Pullman Daily News/Geoff Crimmins photo).

Jack Flack, left, speaks during an open-microphone session at an Idaho Transportation Department hearing at the Best Western Plus University Inn in Moscow on Wednesday (Moscow-Pullman Daily News/Geoff Crimmins photo).

ITD public hearing shows mixed support for three alternatives

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) experienced plenty of foot traffic during its public hearing on Wednesday to gather opinions about plans to reroute and widen U.S. Highway 95 from Thorncreek Road to Moscow.

Preferences varied about which of the three alternative routes ITD should use to resolve traffic safety issues along the 6.5-mile stretch of highway, where more than 130 accidents and six deaths have occurred during the past ten years.

Some sided with the transportation department in its preferred eastern realignment, which is the noisiest but also shortest and safest route, according to its Draft Environmental Impact Statement – the focus of Wednesday’s hearing. Continue reading

A Win-Win Option


Keith G. Haley, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/24/13

A few important thoughts on the U.S. Highway 95 relocation.

The realignment of 95 south of Moscow will be permanent.

It is important we get it right. I feel certain the C-3 alternative route is absolutely the best choice.

My first reason is highway elevation. Anybody who has lived on the Palouse for more than a summer knows the hill to the north of Moscow, Steakhouse Hill, and to the south, Reisenauer Hill, are the winter danger spots. Black ice, blowing snow and unpredictable weather issues begin in November each year and can last until late spring. Continue reading

ITD to Host U.S. Highway 95 Reroute Hearing Today


The Idaho Transportation Department is hosting an open house 2-8:30 p.m. today at the Best Western Plus University Inn where public comment will be taken regarding its plans to reroute U.S. Highway 95 from Thorncreek Road to Moscow and a recently published draft environmental impact statement for the project.

ITD spokesman Adam Rush said there will be technical and project staff with ITD available to answer questions along with additional informative literature. There are western, central and ITD-preferred eastern realignment routes being considered with open mic times for comment at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. There will also be areas to leave written comments.

The public statements are part of the process as we move forward with this project,” Rush said. “We really encourage people to show up and give us their input and comments.”

(By The Moscow-Pullman Daily News)

Don’t Blame Paradise Ridge Defenders


Kas Dumroese, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News

With all due respect to Wayne Olson and Shelley Bennett, their angst is misdirected. The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition welcomes a new U.S. Highway 95, just not by Paradise Ridge. PRDC members (hunters, farmers, foresters, small business owners, environmentalists, etc.) are concerned about safety and passionate about quality of life issues. My teenager commuted on U.S. 95, too.

We still drive on old U.S. 95 because ITD ignored law. With that mistake, ITD could have selected from many potential routes meeting project objectives without requiring the extensive time and money of a draft environmental impact statement, but instead pursued the route flanking Paradise Ridge (E2) that did. Although we could have been driving on a new route years ago, stubbornly, perhaps out of wounded professional pride, ITD pushes the version they admit is the noisiest and has the most negative effect on wildlife, Palouse Prairie and access by rural residents and emergency responders. ITD’s conclusion E2 will be safest is disingenuous – it does so by forcing nearly everyone who lives south of Moscow and north of Thorncreek Road off the new interstate and restricting them to commute on the existing, dangerous route. First responders to Hidden Village, for example, will still travel the old route. Continue reading

C-3 Is Superior Reroute for U.S. Highway 95


Al Poplawski

Al Poplawski

Al Poplawski, Moscow

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News 1/22/13

The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition appreciates the opportunity to respond to several letters to the editor during the last week that made erroneous statements regarding PRDC and the Idaho Transportation Department’s U.S. Highway 95 re-alignment project. Hopefully we can clear up many of these misunderstandings.

In the following discussion we have done our best to provide a factual summary of the draft environmental impact statement.

We share Wayne Olson’s concern for safety. However, we don’t accept responsibility for accidents on the highway. PRDC forced ITD to follow the law that required that they create an EIS. The responsibility is with the laws of our land. We only encouraged following the law. The EIS must consider all factors, propose a wide range of alternatives and select the alternative that best satisfies the “purpose and need” of the project – while observing all laws and regulations. The purpose for this project requires improvement of safety, efficiency and handling of traffic volume. It may take a little longer, but if this process is done well we should get a safe highway. A DEIS usually takes an agency a year or two to perform. It is not our responsibility that ITD took so many years to perform this analysis. Continue reading

Coalition Prefers Central U.S. Highway 95 Reroute


Concerned community members review DEIS and tour the highway site.

The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition held a forum and field trip on the U.S. Highway 95 Thorncreek Road to Moscow realignment project on Saturday, January 19.

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) released a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) with three realignment options earlier this month.  The department stated the eastern route – E-2 – as their preferred alternative.

The coalition took issue with ITD’s E-2 proposal, which would involve constructing a bridge over Eid Road and impacting remnant Palouse prairie land.

The main purpose of the realignment would be to improve the safety and travel time on the stretch of highway. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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? Continue reading