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ITD drops controversial route

by LAUREN REICHENBACH
Staff Writer | June 14, 2024 1:00 AM

SAGLE — After extensive community feedback, the Idaho Transportation Department has dropped one of the proposed routes for a proposed highway thoroughfare through Sagle.

The proposed route — which was only at the beginning of the brainstorming phase to see if it would be feasible — would see the highway snake to the east, going through numerous multi-generational family farms. This caused significant public criticism throughout the county as the term “eminent domain” circulated in the community. Eminent domain is the governmental ability to obtain private property and convert it into public use, and residents thought ITD would enforce that to take control of properties for the project.

Residents rallied against the proposed route, both attending ITD meetings and hosting their own to discuss plans to oppose the proposed route. Hundreds of letters disapproving of the plans were sent to ITD, which recently announced that the proposed route is no longer being considered.

“Originally, as part of our due diligence in exploring the feedback we received from the public meeting in November of 2023, an alternative route was suggested that provided access to Sagle Road,” said ITD public information officer Heather McDaniel. “After exploring some of the preliminary analysis for that concept, the Idaho Transportation Department is no longer considering a U.S. 95 east alignment bypass concept in the Sagle area.”

McDaniel said many factors went into the decision to abandon the proposal, including the route’s proximity to the elementary school as well as its effect on multiple historic structures and noise-sensitive areas.

“Work continues on the environmental reevaluation process along the Sagle corridor to position us for the future enhancement and expansion of U.S. 95,” she said.

ITD is planning an upcoming public meeting where additional information will be shared regarding the future of the expansion project. McDaniel said a date for the meeting has not been set, but staff are anticipating it happening sometime this fall.

For the time being, many county residents are celebrating what they consider a huge win for the community.

“Thank you everyone that wrote letters and stated their opinions on this Sagle bypass plan that was proposed through the east side of Sagle,” Sagle resident Monica Gunter wrote on a Facebook page dedicated to the issue. “We so appreciate everyone that helped get this plan reconsidered. Thank you ITD for listening.”