GRANGEVILLE – “If this is to come to fruition, we’ll need everyone’s support,” said Daryl Mullinix, project lead for a proposed multi-use path west of Grangeville. “The reason we’re trying to get this funded is safety improvement for transportation for the community.”

Bicyclists and pedestrians don’t have good routes to go on, whether along roads in the county or in the city, he said, “and personally, I think this would be a positive thing.”

Mullinix spoke to 22 people at an evening meeting last Thursday, June 6, at Super 8 in Grangeville. He provided an overview of, and answered questions on, a Grangeville Highway District proposal for a proposed 1.8-mile loop, from Grangeville High School, along Fish Hatchery Road and east along U.S. Highway 95. To help fund the estimated $500,000 project, the district will be pursuing federal grant funding that is designated specifically for such community trails or paths projects.

This was the second public scoping meeting on the proposal, the timetable for which is to apply for federal funds through the TAP (Transportation Alternatives Program) this fall. If approved, funding would be awarded in early 2020 and an engineering design conducted, with construction to follow in 2021.

“We don’t have an existing system that accommodates multiple use for pedestrians and bicyclists,” Mullinix said, with the existing infrastructure basically 100 years old, based on usage for farm-to-market and resource management. “The demographics we see are more people walking along our roads, and we just plainly don’t have any that are safe.”

Last week, Mullinix addressed issues raised from the initial March 28 meeting and in subsequent public comments; approximately 130 were submitted with more than 100 in favor, and the remainder split between opposition and favoring looking at alternative routes. Other routes had been considered, but this was the only one they had the rights of way in place. He noted this route will be out of city limits, and the full responsibility of the highway district to manage and maintain. It will be a paved surface, minimum 10-foot width.

“These pathways require a fraction of the maintenance roadways do. It’s not like a highway, you don’t have the traffic impact from trucks and etc. that require seal coating regularly,” he said. The potential for problems is like anyplace else, Mullinix continued. “There are some people you’re probably going to have problems with,” which will be handled by public education, signage and enforcement.

One woman spoke in opposition to the proposal, who reiterated some concerns she raised in March, and noted she and others moved out in the Fish Hatchery Road area for “its beauty and its quiet…. I know you want your bike path. I know you want your walking path,” she continued, speaking to those attending who favor development, “but we all moved out to that section for a reason, and it’s not having another road.”

Attendee Todd Marek confirmed the increase of pedestrians along Fish Hatchery and the safety concerns involved.

“In my business [Northwest Insurance], I deal with a lot of truckers,” Marek said, who traverse area roads where joggers and mothers pushing strollers with babies are right off the shoulder. “It’s so nerve-racking. We need to give people a safe place to do these things, because our roads around here are so narrow.”

Overall, at this meeting, consensus was favorable toward the district’s proposal. A few questioned issues raised by the Grangeville City Council toward the project, which Mullinix explained was a concern on their part the path could potentially be a financial burden for the municipality. He said the district will be meeting again with the city to address concerns.

“They haven’t come out and said they’re going to oppose it,” he said, “but I’m going to say if they don’t come out and say they’re going to support it and be in favor of it, our opportunity for being selected for funding goes down.”

Mullinix also addressed questions on expansion, saying this proposal is open to being built upon, with one option to extend along U.S. 95 and around the golf course, which could incorporate carts into the multi-use. A suggestion for adding underground conduit for lighting, and porta-potties, was one Mullinix said was favorable.

“I think there are unlimited opportunities for different things out there,” he said. “It probably won’t be the highway district that takes the lead. Someone else will have to take those on.”

Proposal comments are still being solicited. For informationcontact Mullinix: 208-983-2408.

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