Attend a public hearing for a proposed real estate development and you will likely hear the developer ask the regulatory authority to waive many of the codes, rules, and regulations pertaining to such projects.
When an agency like Ada County or Idaho Transportation Department yields to such requests, a developer gets a good deal, and we suffer, just a little. The air gets a little dirtier, water is a little more polluted, traffic increases. Your taxes go up by a couple of dollars and the changes are subtle as the movement of a glacier, but just as cold.
Such was the case with Avimor, the planed community on Highway 55 north of Boise. According to the rules, the developer was required to present a detailed design of entry roads, and have them approved by ITD, BEFORE the county accepted Avimor’s application as complete and BEFORE the commissioners deliberated the merits of the project.
Instead of enforcing their own rules, Ada County approved the application with the condition Avimor get ITD’s approval to access to busy Highway 55 BEFORE construction would be allowed.
Public records indicate Avimor began work prior to submitting designs and without approval from ITD for several of their access points. It is now two years since Ada County granted conditional approval of the Avimor application. No final access design has been received or approved by the State or County .
ITD granted Avimor approval of four TEMPORARY access points. All the access points were granted to allow Avimor to get construction equipment and material onto or away from the site.
Only one of the four access points, the southern most one on the east side of the road, required Avimor to widen the road and install turn and acceleration / deceleration lanes. Further, and very importantly, there is no provision for Avimor to routinely move equipment and material from one side of Highway 55 to the other side as an ongoing part of the construction process. Trucks are constantly crossing the highway on a daily basis with no flagger, traffic control devices, or safety lanes.
So it was on Friday, August 8, 2007, that a tank truck pulled out of an unauthorized fifth access point (ITD deems it an “Agricultural” Access Point) on the west side of Highway 55, about a mile north of Avimor’s northernmost proper entry point, and headed south with a load of water destined for the construction site on the East side of the road.
The tank truck attempted to turn at the northern entry where there is no turn lane. In the process of waiting for a gap in the oncoming stream of traffic, the tanker completely blocked southbound traffic and was struck by a car. Both occupants died.
The two motorists might still be alive had they been more alert. However, had ITD and Ada County enforced their own rules and regulations there would not have been a tank truck parked in the middle of a highway.
Current casualty toll associated with the Avimor Project: 2 traffic deaths, at least 1 serious non-traffic injury
NOTE– Check out what the GUARDIAN PUBLISHED in December 2006 on this mess.
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