Photo by David Rauzi
U.S. 95 area evaluated by ITD has lower than average crash rate and, “...does not indicate an improper speed limit.”
As of Tuesday, January 8, 2019
GRANGEVILLE The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) will maintain the speed status quo on U.S. Highway 95 and retain a 45-mph zone entering south into Grangeville.
This determination responds to a citizen petition submitted in November requesting to extend the 35 mph zones to improve highway safety.
In a two-page Dec. 28 letter to Grangeville Mayor Wes Lester, ITD District 2 engineer David Kuisti provided its speed and crash data for the approximate 1.27-mile evaluated zone (from Cash Lane to the new rib restaurant), stating that on the analysis, “extending the 35-mph zone is not appropriate at this time.”
The letter summarized five-year (2013-2017) crash data in this area, noting there have been nine vehicle crashes from Fish Hatchery Road to Pine Street. Of these, one was fatal (2016 car, tractor-trailer collision), two were injury (ran a stop sign, other alcohol-impaired), and six were property damage (three involving animals, two failure to yield and one inattentive driver).
“In summary, the crash rate for this section of roadway is lower than the average rate of similar sections,” Kuisti wrote, “and does not indicate an improper speed limit.”
Kuisti’s letter completes the process started by commercial developer Jerry Cloninger, who is planning a development off U.S. 95 adjacent to the Family Dollar Store, to decrease the northbound highway speed into Grangeville to improve safety. Cloninger and his representative, surveyor Chad Erickson, received petition support from the Grangeville City Council on Nov. 19, a decision the body reversed a month later following further review of the issue and receiving downtown business owners’ petition to reconsider. That last was on the potential economic impact a zone change could have, if it were used by ITD to justify a highway bypass around Grangeville.
In the wake of the decision, Cloninger commented his proposed development will continue, and in fact, having the zone issue determined helps the process along.
“We were kind of waiting on what to do, because a turn bay could change things at 35 or 45,” he said. “Now that we have a decision from ITD, we will be able to finalize things.”
Cloninger also responded to some stated concerns the proposed zone change was about saving on costs were a 35-mph zone to be implemented, which he said wasn’t really much: “A few yards of rock, a few yards of asphalt,” minor costs in comparison with that for the overall proposed project.
“It was a safety issue,” he said.