Ketchum, Idaho ( Ketchum Keystone) - Ketchum residents and visitors might have a new transit hub, located at the intersection of Sun Valley Road and East Avenue, for Mountain Rides Transportation Authority buses before the 2014-15 winter season kicks off.
This image shows the four parking spaces (in red) that would be lost under the current design of a proposed Mountain Rides bus hub in Ketchum, which the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended for City Council approval. Image from Ketchum staff report.
Kurt Eggers presents to the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission on April 28. Keystone photo by Brennan Rego
Since the January meeting, Mountain Rides has updated the proposed design to replace only four parking spaces, as opposed to six. The new design also calls for much smaller “bulb-outs” at the corners of the intersection. The design team claims that the bulb-outs will increase traffic flow through the intersection and also increase pedestrian safety, by shortening the distance required to cross the intersection.
In January, the commissioners said the bulb-outs were too prominent, presenting a problem for snow removal and navigation through the intersection by large vehicles. The commissioners also requested that the design team remove a proposed island from the center of the intersection and ensure that any trees incorporated in the design would not reduce visibility for those approaching the junction.
At the meeting on April 28, Lamoureaux said the new design will be a great improvement for the city.
“You really listened to what everybody was saying,” he said.
Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commissioner Michael Doty expresses concerns at a commission meeting on April 28 about fire trucks navigating the intersection where the proposed bus hub would be located. Keystone photo by Brennan Rego.
Doty said that he appreciates how the design team “pulled back” the bulb-outs. He said that cyclists would have had to ride over the sidewalk extensions in the previous design.
“We’re not trying to build in conflict,” Mountain Rides Executive Director Jason Miller said. “We’re trying to build out conflict.”
However, the commissioners still expressed some concerns before approving the project. Doty said that, should the fire chief or police chief think in the future that the improvements to the intersection were difficult to negotiate in an emergency situation, that the two saved parking spaces should be used to make the intersection more navigable.
“If there were cars parked there, the people would be anxious watching the trucks make that corner, not that they’d be hit,” he said.
Lamoureaux agreed that the intersection would still be tight for large vehicles under the new design. Ketchum Planning and Building Director Joyce Allgaier said that the police and fire chiefs would have requested design changes if they felt there was a safety issue and could easily do so in the future, should problems present themselves.
The project’s landscape architect—Kurt Eggers, of Eggers Associates, a Hailey-based landscape architecture and consulting firm—said that the design team had “imposed more stringent standards” on the design than safety requirements call for. He also said that the design team worked hard to make the hub “special to Ketchum”. He said that materials used in the hub will match those of surrounding buildings and structures so that the hub will fit in with the city’s aesthetics.
Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commissioner Jeff Lamoureaux reviews the proposed design for the bus hub at a commission meeting on April 28. Keystone photo by Brennan Rego.
Eggers said that the design team met “specifically” with business owners whose establishments neighbor the intersection and that none of them are concerned about losing the four parking spots. He also said that they are excited about the project.
The proposed design also includes shelter structures, benches and will incorporate public art.
Ketchum Arts Commission Chairperson Claudia McCain said that the art would be consistent with the flora and fauna of the area and might include poetry or prose related to the area or by local or regional poets.
Design team member Dale Bates—of Living Architecture, a Ketchum-based architectural firm—said that the shelters would be similar to other Mountain Rides shelters in the Wood River Valley. However, the bus hub shelters would include rusted steel panels similar to those found at the nearby Ketchum Town Square and some wood elements similar to those found in the nearby Visitor Center. He said the shelters would include concrete benches with wood tops and lights that are compliant with the city’s “dark sky” ordinance.
Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission Co-Chairperson Rich Fabiano says the proposed bus hub will be an asset to the community at a commission meeting on April 28. Keystone photo by Brennan Rego.
In an interview after the meeting, Miller said that Mountain Rides hopes to get the project approved by the City Council by the end of May. He said that, if the council grants approval, Mountain Rides expects to begin construction in September and hopefully complete it by late October with the final details perhaps extending into November.
“I think we’re still on track for that,” he said.
He also said that it was nice to see that the Planning and Zoning Commission recognized the efforts the design team put in to address the commissioners’, and all stakeholders’, concerns.
At the meeting, Miller said the project would help Mountain Rides fulfill its passengers’ needs and increase ridership, would improve a major intersection in town and help the Sun Valley area compete with other “peer resort” cities that have recently invested significantly in such transit centers. He named Avon, Colo.; Breckenridge, Colo.; Park City, Utah; and Tahoe, Calif., as examples.
“There’s been no [such] investment in the Sun Valley area in a long time,” he said. “It’s overdue.”