Moscow-based coalition against current plan for highway realignment highlights safety in roadside display and petition
Drivers rolling in either direction along U.S. Highway 95 on the south end of Moscow on Friday afternoon could see more than a dozen demonstrators on each side of the road near its intersection with Palouse River Drive.
Most of the demonstrators were members of the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition (PRDC), a group that has been fighting for years against the Idaho Transportation Department’s (ITD) preferred realignment route for the first phase of the highway project – a 6 1/2-mile span from Moscow to Thorncreek Road titled “E-2.” It would cross Paradise Ridge and [not] use a significant amount of the existing route.
Hand-printed messages across brightly colored signs were aimed at students and staff leaving the University of Idaho campus for the winter break.
Some of the signs were meant to be read by order of appearance, in the style of old-time, roadside advertisements. On display for drivers traveling south were three signs reading “Go Slow,” “Next 5 Miles,” and “Curves & Hills.”
All of the messages highlighted the need for cautious driving through the section of the two-lane highway, which eventually widens farther south to four lanes. Some passersby responded by honking their horns or waving at the demonstrators. Continue reading
Group had sued ITD in 2003 over planned re-routing of vital north-south artery.
A group of more than a dozen members and supporters of the Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition waved picket signs Friday along U.S. Highway 95 in southern Moscow, demanding safety improvements on a seven-mile stretch of the roadway that has yet to be improved.
The bright red signs carried messages like “Danger Ahead,” “Go Slow,” “Live for Holidays,” and “U.S. 95 Unsafe.” A news release from the coalition stated that the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has shirked its duty by not taking safety measures on the highway over the decade it has taken to complete an environmental impact statement.
“While ITD proclaims ‘safety’ as its highway realignment project objective, its decades-long neglect of public well-being on current U.S. Highway 95 indicates otherwise,” according to the news release.
The same group sued the transportation department in 2003, citing environmental and safety concerns over the [ITD] preferred route of the highway along the western flank of Paradise Ridge. A federal judge granted an injunction and ordered the department to complete a full environmental impact statement, while design and construction on the rest of the highway continued from Thorn Creek Road to the top of the Lewiston Hill. That work finished in 2007.
Demonstration organizer Mary Ullrich, a resident of Paradise Ridge, said the coalition is working to encourage the transportation department to immediately make one of the most dangerous stretches of Idaho highway safer. She took exception to those who have villainized the group for blocking a new, four-lane, divided highway in the first place. Continue reading