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Members of the Salmon City Council had the full attention of Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) officials at an August 16 City Council meeting.

Topics on the agenda included parking restrictions on state routes within city limits, the Highway 93/Main Street/Courthouse Drive Junction, barriers along the north side of City Park, the posted speed limit on Highway 28 and the Main Street Salmon River Bridge. Fielding the questions were Jason Minzghor, District Six engineer, and Ben Burke, ITD Traffic Engineer.

Minzghor updated the council on the design/build projects slated for Highway 28 along the Lemhi River where multiple bridges are located. He said the Design/Build package will be officially opened August 31 and the department will begin the design work on a total of 19 bridges. From nine to ten bridges are along the Lemhi and the others are in highway districts four and five. He said the department is hoping for good bids and he will be reporting results to the council. Minzghor also said he had had a good meeting with local Fish and Game personnel concerning game and fish passage issues related to the construction work along the Lemhi River.

The department has installed barriers along the north side of City Park to eliminate some of the parking in the state’s right-of-way and to also prevent vehicles from exiting the roadway at highway speed along the park apron. The state’s legal right-of-way is 39.2 feet on either side of the highway’s center. The city has long argued for a reduction of the state dictated speed limit adjacent to City Park. Minzghor said the only way to get drivers to slow down is a visual one. He said if curbs and gutters were constructed along both sides of the road a reduction of speed to around 35 miles per hour would be automatic. He said in the department’s opinion that is the best all-around solution and would take a joint venture arrangement between the city and the state.

Councilman Jim Baker raised the question of parking along the commercial storefronts across from the park and wondered if curbs and gutters wouldn’t obstruct the now wide open access. Minzghor said the project won’t happen next year and that public participation in planning before-the-fact would help define any access issues or treatment of runoff generated by the curbs and gutters. He said an arrangement of parallel parking plus curb and gutter is the only way to change driver behavior and added the ITD is here to find out what Salmon wants.

Councilman Russ Chinske said slowing traffic needs, to come sooner rather than later since drivers are coming into town after many hours of high speed travel.

When asked about what’s next in the process Minzghor said the first step is an official Memorandum of Understanding between the city and state along with contacting the state Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC) for any possible grant monies. There would then be a series of public participation meetings with all landowners involved plus several planning meetings. There would be no land “takings” needed. He said there is a recent aerial survey of the Highway 28 entrance to town which should be completed by December. He said those could be used to pencil in several options of how the access issues could be resolved. The council agreed that would be very helpful. The drawings with options should be ready by early next Spring.

As to the 93/Main Street/ Courthouse Drive intersection Minzghor said that is basically on hold pending work on the Main Street Bridge and the resulting elevations. He said a year ago the state, city and county were discussing the possibility of building an alternate bridge however there is no MOU in existence, as yet. He said the state would still like to see that project happen. He said all the options for the 93 intersection will be reviewed however; unless a partnership is formed, the Main Street Bridge project is not even scheduled which means the work is at least seven years in the future. He added that the present bridge has been rated as safe.

Councilman Jim Bockelman has had design drawings made of a roundabout at the 93 intersection. He said it takes very little property space. He passed the drawings along to the state to have for future reference and was told engineers are exploring potential roundabouts at other locations in the state. Minzghor said, and traffic engineer Burke agreed, that roundabouts have proven to be safer than signals.

The council thanked the two men for the visit and the worthwhile discussion.

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