City talks traffic light at Main St. & Hwy. 95

The corner at Highway 95 and Main Street in Weiser is slated to receive traffic signals in 2029, but an effort by the City of Weiser could potentially move the date up to 2026 with a letter of intend to contribute funds to the project. The Weiser City Council will follow up discussion at a future meeting, possibly on Feb. 13, 2023. Photo by Philip A. Janquart
Philip A. Janquart

 The need for a traffic light at Highway 95 and Main Street has been the topic of discussion for years.

 It came up again during a regular Weiser City Council meeting held Monday, Mayor Randy Hibberd presenting the council with an opportunity to have the project moved up on the Idaho Transportation Department’s completion timeline. All that is needed, he said, is a contribution from the city  for a portion of the cost. According to ITD’s FY2023-29 Investment Program plan released last September, the project is scheduled for 2029 at a listed total cost of $753,000, with a $55,000 match from the city.

 The plan is a forward-looking financial planning document based, in part, on current cost analysis, meaning required funding will change year over year. The 2029 cost for the project would likely exceed a million dollars.
 Hibberd said on Monday that he recently spoke with ITD representatives who confirmed that a commitment of funds would move the project to 2026, three years ahead of the current schedule.
 “In talking with the state, I asked if the city were willing to donate monetarily to that project, if it could be moved up, and they indicated that, yes, it could be moved up, possibly to 2026, which is half the time,” Hibberd told councilmembers.
 Hibberd said the match would be available through the city’s electrical department budget.
 “The electrical department, which we could justify it coming out of there, does have the funds to use for a project of this type,” he said. “I was thinking in the neighborhood of $200,000 to $250,000. Is that worth moving it up three years?”
 The council sought further clarification from Weiser Police Chief Carl Smith, who confirmed that a traffic signal is needed at the intersection.
 “That probably is the most dangerous intersection we have in the city of Weiser,” he said, addressing the council. “That’s where we have the majority of our accidents; the Maverik right there, the turn lanes, it’s a dangerous intersection and we do have crosswalks, but it’s a four-lane road, so if traffic does stop, sometimes we’ve had pedestrian accidents there where traffic couldn’t see that someone is actually crossing because another vehicle has stopped, and they were blinded by that vehicle. So, it’s a dangerous intersection. It does need to be addressed - sooner rather than later, if possible.”
 The only traffic signal on Highway 95 in Weiser is at Park Street. There are also hawk lights on the north side of the Weiser River Bridge, at E. Washington Street. 
 In between, there are marked crosswalks at E. Commercial and E. Main Street, but no lights. Many pedestrians choose to cross at Main rather than walk to Park or Washington Streets to access lighted crossings.
 The problem, however, is that the current city council by law cannot commit funds for a future project that will surely occur under a different city council.
 Hibberd said by virtue of that fact, the council would not be committing any future funds and that a letter of intent could potentially keep ITD engaged with the idea. A future council could either act on or disregard the letter of intent. If future funds are not available at that time, Hibberd said, ITD would simply reschedule the project for 2029.
 Councilwoman Layna Hafer, expressing concern over creating anything that could be construed as binding, recommended a draft letter of intent be submitted to the council at the next regular meeting, on Feb. 13.
 “If memory serves me, this is something we have been trying to negotiate with ITD for pretty much ever and, at one time, their solution was to put a roundabout in there,” Councilman Larry Hogg said. “2029 sounds like a long ways off, but at least we are on the list, so it is actually progress and … I agree with Layna, we have to make sure we aren’t making a commitment that we shouldn’t be, but I think it’s worth pursuing.”
 “Sounds good,” Hibberd responded.



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