Ramsey Road open house
RATHDRUM — A $7.9 million safety road project on Ramsey Road east of Rathdrum that will be built next year is gathering plenty of support — and opposition.
A bridge will be built on Ramsey over the BNSF Railway tracks and Diagonal Road between Chilco and Scarcello roads.
An open house on the project, which also includes reconstructing and widening Ramsey in the 1.5-mile corridor and extending Scarcello to connect Diagonal and Ramsey at a new location, will be held at the Lakes Highway District office, 11341 N. Ramsey in Hayden, on Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m.
No formal presentation will be made. The event is a time to ask questions and provide input to the project team.
"The study that recommended this project began in 2000," said Eric Shanley, Lakes' director of highways. "The safety concern has only exacerbated with growth, an increase in traffic and BNSF's plans for a third set of tracks in that area."
BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said a date hasn't been determined for the third set of tracks.
Shanley said another factor that will increase traffic is Hayden's extension of Ramsey near the airport.
From 2011 to 2016 there was one fatal crash, four injury crashes and three property damage accidents at the Ramsey-Diagonal intersection.
The intersection was identified as a priority improvement project in the 2004 Bridging the Valley report aimed at reducing at-grade railroad crossings from Spokane Valley to Athol.
"I see nothing wrong with this," resident Shaun Brophy said. "With the way this place is growing and the recent amount of vehicular accidents at railroad crossings, I'd say it's a good thing."
Some residents are also pleased that the bridge will eliminate wait times for trains to pass, but some neighbors said they would prefer the waits rather than listen to possibly louder noise due to the trains rising above the forested area, which muffles sound.
Shanley said the bridge will actually reduce the train noise because a horn will no longer need to be sounded. Further, he said, vehicle traffic noise will be reduced because backups will be eliminated.
Rusty Leahy, a transportation engineer with David Evans and Associates who has worked on the project, said one homeowner told him that he can't hear people on the phone when the train horn is sounded.
Shanley said the highway district has heard that some residents believe the project will be excessive for that area and will be constructed to accommodate a future large business or subdivision. However, he said the project is being driven exclusively by the safety study nearly 20 years ago.
"To my knowledge there’s no big business planned," he said. "I would assume there would first have to be a re-zone for that to happen, and I’ve not heard of any such changes."
Other residents simply don't see the project as being necessary.
"Personally I'm not a fan of the upcoming modernizations in the area," Miki Marhoefer said. "Put the light in at (Highway) 53 and Ramsey and leave us alone."
Wendy Lambert said she believes there are more pressing safety road projects in North Idaho such as dividing U.S. 95 from Hayden to Sandpoint.
Leahy said no property owners will have to relocate as a result of the Ramsey project. He said 5 acres of right of way from seven parcels was purchased for the project.
Funding will come from a combination of federal, state, local and railroad funds, Shanley said. He said the highway district has not raised taxes to pay for the project.
Motorists will be able to travel through the affected area during construction, Leahy said.
Comments on the project can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or submitted on: www.lakeshighwaydistrict.com.