On the day after March 31, a Power-Point presentation was given to a group of concerned citizens on the proposed Tolo Lake Cutoff of U.S. 95. Citing safety and cost benefits, the Idaho Transportation Advocates Association have, for years, urged the construction of a bypass that would directly link the White Bird summit to Fenn, saving four miles and developing a safer route of travel. Their cost-benefit studies illustrate that the new bypass would pay for itself in less than 15 years. Eagerly endorsed by the trucking and recreation vehicle industry, the proponents quoted the report illustrating a savings of more than a million a year in fuel conservation alone.
Other contributors at the well-intended meeting shared their personal recommendations as well. Said one proponent, “It was a very cold and windy day as I inched down the grade from the White Bird summit, fighting snowdrifts all the way. Just as I made it to the prairie flats a super-strong gust hit the camper sideways. The cell phone shorted out when the beer spilled and I received a painful cigarette burn in the vicinity of my lap as the rig tipped over. That wouldn’t have happened if there had been a Tolo cutoff !” Still others suggested the cutoff would be a mammoth visitor boost to Tolo Lake itself.
The commissioners decided to weigh in on the proposal saying it would erode the tax base but suggested there might be a way to incorporate the cutoff concept with a big boondoggle land swap and name the route the Brandt-Chmelik Parkway.