Board approves creation of Peaks-to-Craters Scenic Byway
The Idaho Transportation Board recently approved the addition of a highway along some of the state’s most unique landscape for inclusion in the Idaho Scenic Byway network.
Meeting in Boise Feb. 18, the board approved the 140-mile Peaks-to-Craters Byway. The route begins at the Timmerman Junction and traverses east on U.S. 20 to Carey, then northeast past the Craters of the Moon National Monument to Arco along U.S. 93. It continues northwest to the junction of Idaho 75 south of Challis, connecting the Sawtooth Scenic Byway and the Salmon Scenic Byway to form a loop.
The Lost Rivers Tourism Council promoted creation of a new byway along the Snake River plain and along the Lost River Mountain Range. Some of the points of interest along the route include Silver Creek, which is renowned worldwide for its excellent fly fishing; Carey Lake wildlife management area; King Mountain hang glider launch site in Moore; the Lost River Museum in Mackay; Mackay dam and reservoir; and Battleground Cemetery.
Other board discussion
U.S. 95 Access Plan and Mobility Study
At the request of the transportation board in 2006, the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization (KMPO) conducted a U.S. 95 Access Plan and Mobility Study. The segment studied was on U.S. 95 from the Interstate 90 interchange to Wyoming Avenue in Coeur d’Alene.
Although the intent was to maximize the efficiency of the major north-south corridor, safety was the highest priority. Because efficient operation of supporting local arterials and collectors is an important component, KMPO used a system approach.
The study recommends four new signals at half-mile intervals on the route; turn restrictions at eight intersections; new turn lanes; and the removal of two traffic signals. Projects range in cost from $40,000 to $500,000, with a total cost of approximately $6.8 million. No funding source has been identified for any of the projects.
Several business representatives opposed removal of the traffic signal at Bosanko. They believe removing the traffic signal will increase the severity of accidents at the location and will negatively impact businesses.
ITD board members acknowledged the dire financial situation would make it difficult to fund the projects in the near future. They approved a motion to accept the study and directed ITD staff members to continue working with KMPO and other interested groups or organizations in an attempt to mitigate some of the problems identified. It was noted that this does not preclude efforts to look at alternatives and refine the study.
Climate change and transportation
Recent reports indicate the global climate is becoming warmer, primarily because of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The increase is attributable in part to human activity with transportation and heating/cooling. There is some interest in addressing climate change in the next federal highway act through efforts such as managing congestion and reducing vehicle miles traveled.
ITD staff reported to the board on initiatives that Idaho identified to reduce emissions:
State agencies are required to develop data-driven Green House Gas Action Plans and update them annually
An EcoDriving Campaign has been initiated
Sustainability and efficiency initiatives have been identified, and
Modified work weeks and telecommuting are being encouraged
Specifically at ITD, a Green House Gas Action Plan was developed, focusing on the department’s motor vehicle fleet, buildings and employee work schedules. Other measures include participating in a study of the climate change impact to northwestern states and creating transportation development and local agency agreements to coordinate land use, control access and to minimize vehicle miles of travel.
Traffic signal timing also can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
A nationwide study indicated that signal re-timing reduced travel time between 12 percent and 25 percent. Other studies found that fuel consumption was reduced between 2 and 9 percent. ITD is working on improved signal timing on Idaho 55/Eagle Road in the Treasure Valley and U.S. 95 in the Coeur d’Alene area.