Editorial lauds ITD work on Idaho 55

Editorial: Star News (McCall)
For the last 10 weeks, motorists who normally use Idaho 55 to travel between McCall and Donnelly have felt like refugees, unable to easily find their way to or from their homes. But now the work is over, and those people - or at least those who represent them - should stop and say a word of thanks to the Idaho Transportation Department.

Since early August, the project has seen the entire length of highway between McCall and Donnelly, 11 miles worth, taken up like an old carpet, the debris smashed up and recycled, and a smooth new coat of asphalt laid on top. The project replaced a stretch of highway that was deeply rutted and presented a severe traffic hazard, especially in poor weather. But the work required the highway to be reduced to one lane, sometimes in several places at one time.

The result was long delays for those eager to get to school or work, to be on time to a dentist's appointment or salon treatment, or to get home for an evening reunion with spouse and family. Daily life was never so disrupted as when the main arterial of Long Valley was essentially severed for more than two months. It didn't take long for motorists to figure out that taking side routes would help regain some lost time. But this meant residents along normally quiet Farm to Market Road, Elo Road, Norwood Road and Mission Street suddenly found themselves living next to noisy, dangerous speedways.

Now the heavy equipment has been withdrawn, the flaggers have been retired and the highway is open and clear. Soon, everyone will forget the inconvenience and ordeal of the work. That would be a shame. At the very least, every elected body between McCall and Donnelly plus the Valley County commissioners should issue a proclamation or write a letter to the ITD thanking the state for scheduling the project and allocating the funds to complete it. Highway dollars are always scarce, but with the downturn in the economy the state's schedule of construction projects is in serious jeopardy. It would have been easy for the ITD to move the money from a rural project such as Valley County to Boise or Canyon County.

Folks whine a lot about government, and much of it is deserved, but here is one opinion that is indisputable - the Idaho Transportation Department deserves an "attaboy" for delivering on a badly needed project on Idaho 55.

Published 10-22-2010