TWIN FALLS — Twin Falls wants U.S. 30 to move away from downtown.
The Twin Falls City Council on Monday will consider a resolution requesting Idaho Transportation Department reroute U.S. 30 from its current alignment on the Second Avenues. Instead, the route would take Washington Street south to Sixth Avenue West, and then Minidoka Avenue.
The city and ITD have talked about rerouting the highway for years. The 35-mile-per-hour, three-lane, one-way streets are an extension of U.S. 30 passing on either side of Twin Falls’ Main Avenue. And while the streets provide an easy access through that part of town, some officials believe they are a hindrance to economic development and a danger to schoolchildren.
But ITD says it isn’t in the agency’s financial interest to move the highway onto roads that would need significant investment to meet state standards.
“We are not looking to move forward with any kind of rerouting at this point,” ITD spokeswoman Jessica Williams said.
The resolution, if approved, would reaffirm the Council’s wishes — but it’s unknown if it would carry more weight with the state. As drafted, the resolution proposes a trade with ITD — offering Minidoka Avenue, Sixth Avenue West and Washington Street — in exchange for Second Avenue West/South, Second Avenue East/North and Shoshone Street from Sixth Avenue to Second Avenue North. The exchange would be “without compensation from either party to the other.”
One reason the resolution gives for rerouting U.S. 30 is to improve the safety for schoolchildren attending Bickel Elementary, Lincoln Elementary and Magic Valley High School.
Twin Falls School District spokeswoman Eva Craner said that if Second Avenue North were changed to a two-way road, it shouldn’t affect the traffic to Bickel Elementary and Lincoln Elementary School.
Another reason given for the reroute is to promote the economic development of historic downtown with a pedestrian-friendly environment and increased parking.
“It’s just designed for high speeds and to move people through,” Urban Renewal Agency Director Nathan Murray previously told the Times-News. “(In) our downtown, we’d like it to be more pedestrian and bike-friendly.”
Rodney Kinney, co-owner of WarmArt Tattoo and Body Piercing, said that as of now, Second Avenue West, where his business is, isn’t pedestrian friendly because people speed by in attempts to avoid stoplights. But a two-way road could attract more businesses to Second Avenue, he said.
“It would feel more like it’s part of downtown,” Kinney said.
WarmArt Tattoo co-owner Lauri Kinney said that her biggest concern would be if the change would take away parking from businesses.
Murray has also said some businesses have expressed a desire to put in angled parking along the Second Avenues.
Finally, the resolution argues that rerouting U.S. 30 would improve the truck route and reduce truck traffic on the I.B. Perrine Bridge and Blue Lakes Boulevard.
According to ITD data from 2017, Second Avenue North, running northwest, had an average daily traffic volume of up to 7,400 vehicles. Second Avenue East had an average of 6,700 vehicles per day between Shoshone and Gooding streets.
On Second Avenue West, running southeast, average daily traffic reached up to 7,500 vehicles as it approached Shoshone Street. Average daily traffic reached 9,000 vehicles on Second Avenue South at it approached Blue Lakes Boulevard.
If Council approves, Mayor Shawn Barigar will sign the resolution, which concludes:
“Be it further resolved, that the City Council also request that the Idaho Transportation Department program a project to construct a five lane roadway for 1.4 miles to comprise new Highway 30/74 along former Minidoka Avenue, 6th Avenue West and Washington Street.”
The City Council meets at 5 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers inside City Hall, 203 Main Ave. E. Also at the meeting, the Council will:
- Hear a proclamation declaring Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, 2018, as Hispanic Heritage Month in the city of Twin Falls.
- Consider a request to approve a Federal Aviation Administration grant offer for airport planning and snow removal equipment in the amount of $532,809.
- Discuss the Greater Twin Falls Area Transportation Committee priority list for projects; and consider a staff recommendation to approve the request with the inclusion of a third bridge crossing added to the bottom.
- Consider a request to accept the right of way for Meadowview Lane North from Whispering Pine Drive to Addison Avenue East.
- Discuss the future of the Municipal Powers Outsource Grants program.
- Consider a request for the Council to accept the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant that was awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Aug. 31. The grant will pay for 75 percent of salaries and benefits for five firefighters for two years, and then 35 percent for a third year.
- Have a public hearing for a request for annexation with a zoning designation of M-2 for approximately 40 acres at 630 Hankins Road South.
- Have a public hearing for a request to raise Twin Falls recreation fees.
- Have a public hearing for a request to raise the Twin Falls city pool fees.
- Adjourn to executive session for the purpose of considering the evaluation, disciplining of — or to hear complaints or charges brought against — a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent.