A Matter Of Opinion

TUESDAY, JUNE 24, 2008, 1:20 P.M.

Letter: Transportation values

Thursday, June 19, a headline on the Spokesman's front page proclaimed, "Americans rein in road time." Inside, the editorial exhorted Idaho to spend money on highways. A disconnect? Old thinking?

Idaho's transportation department (ITD) does not invest in meaningful bicycle, pedestrian and transit infrastructure. Unfortunately, its highway/roadway expansion makes other modes more difficult and dangerous. Many Idahoans would drive less but find their efforts hampered by minimal transit, sidewalks, bike lanes and unsafe crossings. These options can be less expensive than adding road lanes, but ITD acts as a "highway department," not a "transportation department."

Several years ago ITD sponsored a visioning workshop where I heard North Idaho leaders advocate for transit, bicycles and walking. All are missing in the final funding report.

With drivers seeking alternatives, let's invest in them. Make it safe for kids to safely walk or bike to nearby schools. Adults should be able to use their bicycles and feet to commute, to enjoy themselves or to run errands. Instead of spending mere pennies on these options, let's give them priority for a few years and enjoy the results. Our transportation system will be more robust; our lives will be better. -- Molly O'Reilly, Sandpoint

Do you see highways becoming back-burner issues in light of gas prices and a "new order" of transportation strategies? How much must transportation departments contribute to conservation efforts? Does a change in priorities justify allowing some roads to remain in disrepair?

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