Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Expanded highway doesn't benefit city, residents

| March 14, 2023 1:00 AM

In 2018, the Sandpoint City Council adopted the following strategic priorities: responsive government, resilient economy, sustainable environment, vibrant culture and livable community.

Now, at the urging of city staff, council is poised to ditch these priorities in favor of moving highway traffic through our city on a five-lane Highway 2. It’s clear that doesn’t facilitate a livable community. We ride bikes, walk and enjoy clean air and quiet. More traffic isn’t a sustainable environment. Think noise, pollution and the need for more police enforcement.

Pine Street is recovering from decades of through traffic with new and upgraded housing and a vibrant brewery. It is about to be sacrificed again. Not a “resilient economy” decision.

Responsive government? The Transportation Plan (MMTP) based its public involvement on a survey that didn’t mention the couplet (euphemism for connecting the two five-lane segments with one-way two-lane sections). That project will remove parking, at least one popular business, part of a baseball park and make more dangerous walking, cycling, or driving north to south in Sandpoint.

Sandpoint has fought expanding the highway since it realized how damaging Fifth Avenue between Larch and Cedar has been for safety, downtown and its nearby residents. But now, non-elected city officials are moving a fuzzy 2040 plan forward to 2023. How has the city gotten so out of touch with its citizens?

Concerned? Attend the March 15, 5:30 p.m. council workshop at City Hall, where staff is expected to focus on how expensive it would be to alter the transportation plan. Will they explain how the “couplet” will degrade life in Sandpoint? Address the council's 2018 priorities? Present the latest transportation thinking that alternatives need to be found to widening highways? Probably only if we request it!



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