As of today, Bayview-bound drivers no longer should have to wait at the gate to Farragut State Park.
Bayview resident Herbert Huseland saw to that.
“I got ticked off one afternoon when I was going home to Bayview and got surly at the guard gate,” Huseland said.
He didn’t stop at chewing out the attendant. People do that regularly and it hasn’t made a difference.
Several phone calls, a letter and two days later, state Department of Transportation workers were installing signs to direct Bayview traffic around the gate.
Officials said they would remove the orange cones that funneled traffic by the entry booth, freeing up a lane for the through traffic. Park traffic still must stop at the booth.
The park historically has blocked the entrance in the summer season and on busy weekends to collect park fees.
The result is an occasional long wait for people headed to Bayview.
“When there’s no reason to stop, why stop?” said Carol Coleman, owner of Bayview Mercantile. “Sometimes I’m bringing stuff back to the store that needs to be refrigerated, and it’s hot. And you’re there sitting, waiting for everyone.”
Some drivers choose to drive around the park on Perimeter Road, a route that adds two miles to the trip.
“We have never really liked the way we’ve had to collect fees,” said Rick Cummins, regional parks director. “But without stopping traffic, our revenue collection is very poor.”
Bayview residents have complained for years about the roadblock, to no avail. They did stop a plan years ago to close the road to Bayview.
But it wasn’t until Huseland called the Idaho State Police this week that anything was done about the roadblock.
Huseland claims that by blocking the roadway to collect fees, the state is breaking the law.
“If I were to go up on Highway 41 and barricade it, you’d have an officer out there in minutes and have me in handcuffs,” Huseland said he told ISP Capt. Ralph Powell.
State officials said they were not certain whether the roadblock is legal or not.
“The legality question hasn’t been raised,” said Tom Baker, district engineer for the Department of Transportation.
“I believe it was researched, but I couldn’t tell you,” Cummins said.
It is illegal to block a state highway, Powell said, but “we believe had we completed the investigation of the title, that it belongs to the state parks department. It then becomes a state parks road.
“That being the case, they can parade moose across it if they want.”
At any rate, Baker and Cummins agreed that the time has come for a change. Traffic to Bayview has increased to the point where those drivers usually outnumber park visitors, Baker said.
Cummins’ primary concern now is safety.
The booth is on the left side of the roadway, but park facilities are on the right after the entrance.
“Any car using the park is going to be crossing traffic,” he said. “We’re going to ask people to really slow down in that area.”
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