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READER COMMENT
Reader Comment: Committee: Here's how we formed the Canyon Springs Road plan

The Snake River Canyon is one of the defining aspects of Twin Falls. Its spectacular views from the canyon rim to the river’s edge invite our community and thousands of visitors each year to experience its beauty.

But the single connection between the river and the rim, Canyon Springs Road, connects it all.

The road was built in the 1970s to provide critical access to the city of Twin Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant, and to replace a more precarious route that I.B. Perrine constructed in the early 20th century. But more opportunities migrated to the canyon floor that include: the Canyon Springs Golf Course, Auger Falls Park, zip lines and Centennial Park.

Its growing popularity has steadily increased, with current vehicle counts exceeding 1,300 vehicles per day — that’s about 55 vehicles descending and ascending the grade every hour.

And the road itself has become an attraction for walkers, runners and cyclists, who use the steep grade to enjoy sweeping views and to support their health and fitness. Last summer, more than 150 pedestrians used Canyon Springs Road each day, and during some special events the pedestrian count exceeds 400 users per day.

The road’s explosive popularity has become its biggest challenge as conflict escalates between vehicles and pedestrians, and more users are at risk of rock falling onto the roadway.

In July 2015, the Twin Falls City Council sought volunteers from the community to identify potential solutions that would ensure the safety and accessibility of this invaluable resource. We offered our names and were appointed to an ad hoc committee to represent the broader community with a charter to provide recommendations on the following:

Cost-efficient options to reconstruct Canyon Springs and improve drainage

Options for providing enhanced safety for pedestrians and cyclists

Consider improved slope stability by the city and adjacent property owners

The potential for parking

Options for providing continued access to canyon destinations with appropriate widths for large trucks

This project is significant to our community and any decision will impact current and future generations. That is why we sought to use all available tools to keep the community informed through each step of the process.

Committee meetings were publicized, broadcast and archived on the city’s website. We repeatedly encouraged — and received — public comment at committee meetings. City and community events provided information about the project and asked for feedback. Local media reported our efforts.

During committee meetings we studied and discussed at-length various approaches, and we were all sensitive to the question of cost.

The list of approaches was narrowed down to two options that included: only stabilizing the rock wall and addressing road drainage issues at a cost of about $1.7 million; and address the safety of pedestrians in addition to rock wall and drainage issues for an estimated $5.8 million. The estimates are based only on preliminary planning estimates typical for a project at this stage and of this complexity.

The preferred alternative, which provided an option to City Council that addressed a majority of the community’s concerns, was not the lowest-cost option. The lowest-cost option would not have resolved most — if any — of the concerns expressed by users of the Canyon Springs Grade.

The committee reflected on the need to accommodate the growing number of pedestrians on the road — as the cost implications are substantial. But broad public input overwhelmingly showed that residents want a more extensive and connected trail system for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as safe and convenient access to the canyon rim and the amenities within the canyon.

Discouraging the public from using their roadway in the manner they choose to use it is — at best — elusive, and statistics suggest demand will only continue to increase.

The committee asked engineering staff to gather more information on definitive engineering and cost estimation, which will be based upon a more refined design. This will further provide the community with more information and opportunities before a decision is made.

We encourage all who are interested to review the issues and available options. The full engineering report is available on the city’s website: www.tfid.org

Canyon Springs Road is critically important to the history and future of Twin Falls. The decision we are making is one tailored to the current and future demands of a rapidly growing and changing community.


Mailbag
Letter: A defense of the serial comma

Currently, there is a large dispute going on in the world of English debating whether to use a serial comma before the word "and" when you have three or more items listed in a series. Many people were taught that there is no need for the comma because the "and" is meant to distinguish between the two items mentioned in the list. Although this may be true to an extent, it does not correctly apply to every grammatical situation.

For example, it could lead to a misreading. Consider this sentence: Mrs. Jones left all her money to her three children: Huey, Dewey and Louie. This sentence could imply that instead of distributing her money evenly to all her children, Mrs. Jones gave half of her money to Huey, and left Dewey and Louie to split the other half.

Consider this sentence as well: I had eggs, toast and orange juice for breakfast today. This sentence could be easily and understandably mistaken for someone having eggs and some sort of odd concoction of toast and orange juice.

The proper versions to these sentences should look like this: Mrs. Jones left all her money to her three children: Huey, Dewey, and Louie. I had eggs, toast, and orange juice for breakfast today.

These are just some examples of silly sentences. Sometimes the serial comma is absolutely crucial when it comes to important documents such as legal documents. Thomas R. Haggard says, “The serial comma is essential in legal writing because it promotes clarity.” Again, I understand many were taught that the serial comma is unnecessary; however, using the comma applies correctly to every situation, and you are less at risk to be misunderstood.

Shallen Schoessler

Shoshone


COMMUNITY COLUMNIST
Larson: Trump’s Twitter account in a post-decency world

I don’t like Donald Trump’s Twitter account. It’s often crass and inappropriate. Sometimes it’s just plain juvenile and foolish. It’s even false at times, and it usually falls below the threshold of what I’d consider presidential.

There was a long stretch during the epic 2016 presidential campaign cycle that I was certain Trump just couldn’t help it. I believed that his emotions simply got the best of him, and he’d let his 140 characters fly, taking no prisoners. It looked then like a simple tantrum, but I’ve come to see things differently. Nobody wins a major party’s nomination — much less the United States Presidency — by accident. As much as I dislike @realDonaldTrump, I think I know why his Twitter account is an asset and not a liability.

For years, decades even, the left and the media have weaponized conservatives’ devotion to civility. Mitt Romney failed in 2012 for a few important reasons, among them was how nice he was. He exuded decency, because it had served him extremely well in business, faith and family. How often was he criticized for being too vanilla, too plain, too boring? Too … nice. Even conservatives were angered by what they saw as inadequate hostility toward Barack Obama. And when Mitt did try getting tough, it just didn’t seem to be him.

There’s tragedy in recognizing that we may be living in a post-decency world, especially in politics — a realm that has always been spirited. But we have moved beyond spirited. Politics have turned from very colorful to very dark. The dripping hatred that the loudest voices on both sides have for one another is sucking the joy out of our political diversity. We’ve all been there these last few months, with emotions sashaying all over, from meme to meme and post to post on social media. Seems that “nice” doesn’t matter much, along with its sibling casualties “civil” and “decent.” I’ve even gotten to the point that I get irritated at memes and posts I AGREE with.

This is just my observation, but I believe President Trump tweets as he does because he continues to get a very specific and predictable result: a media system that discredits themselves by over-reacting to the latest tweet that they believe is the “Gotcha!” they’ve been hoping for. Trump knows he will never, ever, have them in his corner, especially if he delivers on his campaign promises. They are more valuable as a clear adversary, because most in America despise the media. The enemy of our enemy is our friend — even if we don’t like what he tweets.

It’s also identical to why the media was so catastrophically wrong on their election analysis. What they didn’t see before Nov. 8, they still don’t see — a nation hungry for someone who will fight hard for them and for their country, for their economy, and for their communities. Barack Obama apologized to other nations and bowed to their leaders. Donald Trump bows to no one and puts America first. And that alone forgives a thousand offensive tweets.

As much as I don’t like Donald Trump’s Twitter storms, they represents the fight against forces many of us despise even more: the progressive political regime whose leaders play identity politics at every turn with all the white privilege and the safe spaces and the xenophobia and the bigotry blah, blah, blah. Democrats are losing en masse in legislative districts and gubernatorial races across this country — for the same reason the media goes guano-crazy every time President Trump tweets something controversial. Despite all of the media’s efforts, America is still putting their faith in traditionalism in races closest to home, and in their fits of panic over losing influence they abandon journalistic integrity and intellectual consistency.

Even through the recent controversies, Trump’s approval ratings hover just above 50 percent. The media is flabbergasted, angry, and irritated. And that, right there, may just be the point of @realDonaldTrump.


The Associated Press  

President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Trump’s freewheeling style on Twitter and elsewhere is complicating life for the government lawyers tasked with defending his executive actions in court.


PAT SUTPHIN, TIMES-NEWS FILE  

Jose Ramirez, 46, enjoys an evening jog Dec. 13 on Canyon Springs road in Twin Falls. Ramirez says he jogs there a couple times a week because he enjoys the beautiful scenery.