Nearly 200 farmers, property owners, commuters, professors and concerned citizens turned out to help determine a new alignment for almost 6.5 miles of U.S. 95 in Latah County, last week in Moscow.
At one of four workshops, citizens were divided into groups of 10-20 and given the opportunity to provide comment and input on five potential alignments between Thorncreek Road and Moscow. The alignments reflect the public input received at a November public scoping meeting.
“The citizens’ dedication to commit their time to the workshops and the respect they showed for differing points of view was remarkable,” said District 2 Engineer Jim Carpenter. “Information collected from these workshops will be used to focus our study on alignment options for the next open house.”
To aid in their discussion, facilitators provided maps, detailed descriptions and computer-graphic, virtual tours of each alignment.
“The Virtual Planning provides the public with a visual aid to help them see the project as it would exist,” said Carpenter. “The new alignments can be shown from any perspective that you would like, be it an aerial overviews, simulated driver perspective or observation of the alignment from another site.”
The visual technology may become a standard vehicle for demonstrating the look and feel of project alternatives, explained Project Manager Ken Helm.
“With the help of a visual aid tool we were able to both drive and fly over each alternative to show them how it will look once the alignment was constructed. I received a lot of positive feedback on this tool and could not believe how fast the three hours went during each of the four sessions.
“I see future meetings being conducted in this manner and believe it is an excellent way to relate alignments with the public. The old flat piece of paper with lines on it will go away with this new technology.”
Visual Genesis of Boise is the consultant on the virtual planning aspect of the project.
“In the spring, we will hold an open house, allowing the public to learn about and comment on the input and suggestions we gathered from the workshops,” said ITD Public Involvement Coordinator Gwen Smith.
Currently, U.S. 95 between Thorncreek Road and Moscow is a two-lane highway, operating near capacity with several curves that do not meet current engineering standards.
The proposed project consists of replacing the existing two-lane facility with a four-lane divided highway.
The study area bears north approximately 6.5 miles from the existing alignment at Thorncreek Road and ties back to the existing alignment at the recently completed south fork of the Palouse River Bridge.
This spring, construction of 14.5 miles of U.S. 95 from the top of Lewiston Hill to Thorncreek Road will begin. Upon completion of the Thorncreek to Moscow project, U.S. 95 will be a four-lane highway from Lewiston to Moscow.
For more information about the project, visit the project Web site: http://www.northwestmedia.net/us95/