KIMBERLY • Opponents of a proposed new truck route southeast of Twin Falls won a victory in Kimberly Tuesday night, when the City Council unanimously voted not to support any of the three proposed routes.
The city of Twin Falls and the Twin Falls Highway District have both already weighed in, favoring a proposed route that would follow 3600 North from Washington Street South, then hook north at 3300 East to meet with Kimberly Road.
The next step would be for the highway district to form a proposal to the county to change the zoning map to create the route, said Gary Young, an engineer who was on the steering committee and presented the project to the Kimberly City Council. The county would then have to hold public hearings before doing so.
A couple dozen people came to Tuesday’s meeting, many of them owners of the 18 homes and farms that would be impacted by the route. Kimberly Mayor Tracy Armstrong said after the vote that opponents should stay abreast of the process.
“It seems that there’s a bigger giant to take down in this, so good luck to you,” he said.
The idea is to turn the route into a 60 mph, four-lane highway over several decades, directing trucks out of Twin Falls as they head to the industries between Twin Falls and Kimberly or go between U.S. Route 93 and the Hansen Bridge.
There were two other alternatives looked at, one that would head north at 3350 East instead and a third that would follow Orchard Drive for a bit, then follow a new road from Blue Lakes Boulevard to 3300 East. All three would cost more than $30 million. Young said he expects it would take 30 to 40 years for the project to be done.
“That’s a lot of money,” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to fall out of the sky.”
Lael Schoessler’s family has a dairy near the intersection of 3600 North and 3300 East that could stand to lose land on both sides of 3600 if the route is widened. He said people in Kimberly should play a role in the decision, not just people in Twin Falls.
“It’s all agriculture,” Jill Skeem, who lives on 3300 East, told the Times-News. “Some of them are 100-year-old homes.”
Skeem said the route would ruin their property values even before it gets built, and that the trucks should be sent up Eastland instead. She thinks its placement is meant to foster rezoning and development in what is now a rural area but one that is close to the growing Kimberly Road corridor.
“That’s why we all live out here,” she said. “And we think, for how long?”
The proposal came as part of an update of the Greater Twin Falls Area Transportation Committee’s Southeast Twin Falls Corridor Study. The committee discusses regional transportation issues and provides input to lawmakers on transportation needs. Keller Associates evaluated the truck route alternatives. As well as the truck route, the study looked at other potential road projects in the area.
Several people at Tuesday’s meeting questioned why they hadn’t been informed as the routes were being developed.
“It’s kind of like coming back to us after the fact, and asking for forgiveness, not permission,” said Councilman Jim Eisenhower.
Kimberly Community Development Director Rob Wright said that he was not part of the meetings where the proposals were developed. The route makes sense from an engineering perspective, he said. It’s straight, with few stops or corners. And the transportation committee, he said, consists of representatives from the county’s highway districts, lawmakers, the banking and trucking industries and the Idaho State Police, and that its recommendation would likely be given great weight.