Public Transport

Multiple cars drive down Kimberly Road creating a light trail effect Wednesday, July 27, 2016, in Twin Falls Idaho. The 2020 census for Twin Falls will almost certainly show the population to be more than 50,000, triggering a federal requirement to form a Metropolitan Planning Organization. Cities over a 50,000 population without an MPO lose federal transportation funding, something Twin Falls city officials are hoping to avoid.

PAT SUTPHIN, TIMES-NEWS

TWIN FALLS — Twin Falls’ Transportation Master Plan is getting an update, ahead of the creation of a new regional transportation planning organization that is expected to happen after the 2020 Census.

The City Council on Monday voted to approve a deal with Civil Science, which has an office in Twin Falls and has previously completed road and civil engineering projects in Twin Falls and the Magic Valley, to develop the new plan. City staff picked the company out of four that responded to a request for proposals, said City Engineer Jackie Fields.

The current plan was last revised in 2008 and adopted in 2009. Fields said the Transportation Master Plan is similar to water or wastewater facility plans in that planners need to look at the current transportation situation, make projections for the future and plan for future capital improvements. She said there would be a robust attempt to bring the public in on the plan’s development, and to get input on aspects such as accommodating pedestrians, lighting and the location of truck routes.

The city usually reviews the plan every five years or so, said city spokesman Joshua Palmer. Palmer said much has changed transportation-wise since the last revision, including a lot of new construction that has altered the flows of traffic around town — namely St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center, Walmart, Canyon Ridge High School, Glanbia’s downtown office, Chobani, Clif Bar and new schools.

“We have some traffic patterns that need to be changed,” he said.

Also, he said, the plan would have to incorporate items such as bicycle lanes, lighting and discussion of future truck routes.

Fields said the new plan would include some preparatory work for after the 2020 Census, when Twin Falls will almost certainly have more than 50,000 people and will be required by federal rules to create a Metropolitan Planning Organization to oversee transportation policy in the area. The city started this year to plan for the expected creation of a municipal bus system once this point is reached.

The plan could also include a proposal to rebuild Washington Street, Minidoka Avenue and Sixth Avenue West to reroute U.S. 30 off of the Second avenues, steering some truck traffic away from the heart of downtown.

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"It has a place in this document," Fields said.

The City Council passed a resolution late last year supporting the idea, and Palmer said it was one of the projects the city applied for federal aid for this year. But since it wasn't in the city's master plan "there was a deduction on the score that was significant because of it," Fields told the Council.

The city has budgeted $250,000 for the update.

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