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Blaine County Speed Limit Change: Set To Protect Wildlife

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By Joey Martin

Hailey, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Highway 75 in Blaine County is the areas main access road.

Connecting Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley.

For years the speed limit that connected this area was set at 55 miles per hour... Day or night.

But recently the county and ITD have teamed up and made a change that affects drivers during the nighttime hours.

Joey martin for Idaho’s First News was in Blaine County and explains the change.

45 miles per hour.... That's the new nighttime speed limit in Blaine County on parts of Highway 75.

The new limit just north of Hailey was put in place for one reason... And one reason only.

To protect drivers, and the areas abundant wildlife population.

"I think people are willing to acknowledge that this is a safety issue and people cherish the local wildlife."
Said Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen

For years, residents in this area have been dodging and swerving to avoid elk and deer along the highway.

Often resulting in collisions with the wildlife.

"Wildlife that is in the area of the Wood River Valley is residential herds for the most part. And so they do cross back and forth across properties and the highway, particularly at night and do create a hazard for drivers that frequent that area."
Said Nathan Jerke with the Idaho Transportation Department.

A survey conducted by the Idaho Transportation Department shows one particular location that the number of collisions is far and above any other.

"The highest frequency is just north of Hailey, between McKercher and about to where Buttercup and Zinc Spur come into the highway. Because of that frequency ITD agreed to go ahead and institute a nighttime speed limit to 45 miles per hour from the regular 55 miles per hour."

Usually when a speed limit is changed or reduced. No matter the reason, motorist find it to be a nuisance. But here in the wood river valley it was local residents and drivers that spearheaded the change.

"I think that the public really supports this in Blaine County. The general public is aware that wildlife cross the road in this area... the general public is sensitive to cost. So expensive solutions and not preferred solutions. This is a simple solution, lower the speed limit... slow down, it's safer. It's just logical.

A logical change that will not only protect you.

But protects the wildlife that calls the Wood River Valley their home.
For more information on wildlife hot spots along highway 75 in Blaine County.
Log onto the Idaho Transportation Department website at WWW.ITD.IDAHO.GOV



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