HAILEY, Idaho – An advocate for a high-speed train linking Blaine County to Twin Falls’ airport says the addition of a train that traveled 200 mph for the 80 mile trip would make a new airport in Blaine County unnecessary.
Frequent traveler Peter Catchpole, of Hailey, said it also would alleviate travelers’ woes during winter months when passengers traveling through Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey are sometimes bused to Joslin Field in Twin Falls to make connections.
The high-speed could also be a boon to local economies. The train could transport shoppers and commuters, as well as travelers, said Twin Falls County Commissioner Tom Mikesell.
Bill Carberry, manager of Joslin Field – Magic Valley Regional Airport, said the link is an ambitious project.
“It’s an interesting idea,” he said. “It would create an entirely new dimension for the Twin Falls airport. It would change the complexion entirely.”
Federal dollars could pay for some of the airport’s remodeling, but state and local money would likely be needed for the rail link.
And opponents say it will cost too much.
Blaine County Commissioner Sarah Michael said an area public transportation feasibility study showed that a light rail connecting the 13 miles between Bellevue and Ketchum would cost up to $50 million per mile, and to translate that into costs between Blaine and Twin Falls county is not sustainable.
“If it was a realistic and sustainable (option), it would be great,” she said. “We can’t even afford our commuter buses.”
The inter-county train is just part of ongoing debate on whether to add a new Blaine county airport.
A new airport could be a 10-year project costing up to $125 million.
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