Friday, December 02, 2022

Traffic issues should be top priority for city

| November 16, 2022 1:00 AM

Whitefish has probably the worst traffic congestion and poorest roads in the entire valley. Traffic on Baker and Wisconsin was intolerable last winter, is terrible now, and will be horrendous this winter.

But rather than tackle these challenging problems, our City Council has recently decided to spend $2 million to beautify the viaduct. Not only that, they admit they have no idea where the money will come from. According to the planning document, only $300,000 is currently allocated, yet our City Council voted to approve the plan and charge ahead.

Read the plan. Rather than improving traffic flow, this plan will intentionally slow traffic on the viaduct, causing even more congestion, and further reduce the quality of life for residents, especially those living north of the viaduct. Shouldn’t we be trying to move as much traffic as possible through the viaduct bottleneck instead of expanding bike lanes and installing fancy fencing and lighting.

Replacing the slip lane at the intersection of Railway Street and Baker with curb extensions (bulb outs) is a terrible idea. Its current configuration prevents backup on Railway, especially during heavy traffic times. Eliminating it means that a single vehicle trying to turn left onto Baker will hold up everyone who would ordinarily merge smoothly going north. Especially concerning is the impact on larger vehicles, as noted in the planning document. This takes what is now a well-designed intersection and turns it into a disaster.

Traffic has become the biggest problem in our town and should be our top priority. This project not only doesn’t address that, it will make things worse. And for 2 million imaginary dollars? Surely, we have a lot more important things to spend that money on.

Rick Packard, Whitefish

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