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Nez Perce County Comprehensive Plan

SECTION 13

Transportation

PURPOSE OF THE TRANSPORTATION ELEMENT

Barge

Transportation is a major consideration in planning for our communities. Nez Perce County citizens and businesses rely heavily on various modes of transportation each day. This element considers the location and condition of the existing traffic circulation system and sets plans for meeting Nez Perce County's future transportation needs.

INVENTORY & FUTURE NEEDS ANALYSIS

Nez Perce County is served by two major highways, the north-south route, U.S. 95, and the east-west route, U.S. 12. These intersect at Lewiston. Lewiston also is the head of slackwater navigation on the Snake - Columbia River system. The county has access to national rail networks via the Camas Prairie Railway.

The convergence of two major highway systems and the port at Lewiston, combined with the availability of rail service, gives Nez Perce County the potential of becoming a major transshipment point serving a large portion of the interior Northwest.

Existing and future industrial and commercial development is dependent upon good roads and access to multi-modal transportation, rail, water, and air. As residential development increases in rural areas, provisions must be made for adequate service roads.

Roads and Highways:

Inventory: The total mileage of federal highway in Nez Perce County is 74.5 miles, of which 18.25 miles are four-lane. There are also 6.35 miles of state highway. All the major arterials in the county - U.S. Highways 95and 12, and State Highways 3 and 128 - are maintained by the Idaho Transportation Department, Division of Highways.

The Nez Perce County road network consists of approximately 599 miles of improved roads, and 349 miles classified as unimproved roads. The improved roads include 127 miles of all-weather asphalt type surface, with the remainder being graveled or simply graded and drained. There are four roads within the county network that are classified as secondary arterials. They are County Road #104, which is the old U.S. 95 Lewiston Grade, also called the "Spiral Highway"; County Road #215, from north of Kendrick east to east of Southwick; County Roads #505 and 506, from Lewiston Orchards east to U.S. 95 at Sweetwater; and County Road #350, from Myrtle on U.S. 12 to Gifford, and south to Reubens in Lewis County. The Down-River Road, north of the Port of Lewiston, has become a sub-arterial serving the Wilma Port and bypassing Lewiston/Clarkston to connect with U.S. 12 west of Clarkston via the new Red Wolf Crossing Bridge. The majority of county roads are under the jurisdiction and maintenance of the Nez Perce County Road and Bridge Department. The balance is within the South Latah Highway District.

The primary functions of the Nez Perce County Road and Bridge Department are maintenance and essential upgrading of existing roads. As residential development takes place, some roads will require upgrading to accommodate increased traffic volumes safely.

The Nez Perce County Road and Bridge Department is responsible for the maintenance of 32 bridges within their jurisdiction. The largest of these are the Cherry Lane Bridge and the Lenore Bridge. These 17-ton capacity structures span the Clearwater River.

Future Needs: Current development is outpacing the County Road and Bridge Departments ability to maintain existing roads and develop new roads. Much of the county road system is broken down structurally due to increased traffic and heavier truck use. Drainage ditches along roadways are in disrepair. This results in heavy frost damage to the county road systems.

Access control is also a growing concern as development continues. Uncontrolled development of new access ways onto busy roads in the county may increase the risk of vehicle accidents.

The county is in need of a long-range road improvement plan. This plan will help the county to prioritize its maintenance concerns and plan for future roadways as needed. Increased land development over the course of coming years will require new road development and improvements to the existing system. A roadway capital improvement plan will enable the county to determine the costs to serve new development and assess those costs to the development.

Truck Transport:

There are several motor freight companies based in the Lewiston area, and many other trucking companies provide service to the area. Because of the flexibility of motor freight, it has become the primary mode of transport in the region. With the development of Lewiston and Clarkston as an inland port, trucks have become the carriers of an increasing volume of grain. These trucks are chiefly from eastern Washington and North Idaho with some from as far east as North Dakota and Eastern Montana.

Water Transport:

The development of slackwater navigation has made possible a greater movement of grain and forest products to the coast. This has given the Northwest a strong position in international grain, paper and wood products export.

Lewiston is Idaho's only seaport and one of three port facilities serving the Lewis-Clark Valley. The ports of Clarkston and Wilma are located in Washington within five miles of Lewiston. The Lewis-Clark Valley is located 456 river miles from the Pacific Ocean and is at the head of navigation of the Columbia-Snake River System.

The Port of Lewiston handles mainly grain and containerized cargo. Rail service directly into the dock area gives good transshipment capability. Apart from grains, the main cargoes are paper products, and peas and lentils from the Camas and Palouse Prairies.

The Wilma Port Site is developed for wood products shipment, bulk petroleum products handling, and public port facilities. Wilma Port also has rail and highway access, and complete utility systems. The Port of Clarkston is known for log shipment and the cruise ships that bring tourist up the river from Portland.

Railroads:

Though not on a major rail line, Nez Perce County has rail service extended into the area via the Snake River canyon from the west. The Lewiston area is served by the Camas Prairie Railnet that is an operating company providing rail access to major markets. The Camas Prairie Railnet system includes 256 miles of track in Idaho and Washington and a major railroad yard area just west of Potlatch Corporation in East Lewiston.

Lumber, lumber by-products, and agricultural commodities have been the backbone of Camas Prairie Railnet shipments. The chemicals used in papermaking and fertilizer for agricultural uses also go hand in hand with timber and agriculture. Camas Prairie Railnet does not provide passenger service.

Air Service:

Inventory: The Lewiston airport, jointly owned and operated by Nez Perce County and the City of Lewiston, serves as the regional airport for commercial air travel in North Central Idaho and Southeastern Washington. Lewiston is served by commercial airlines, agricultural and private air services, as well as private and corporate aviation activity.

Airport Logo

At present, the major function of the commercial airlines is to provide passenger service, although airfreight is also handled. Development of industries manufacturing a high-value, low-bulk product could increase the potential for airfreight service.

Future Needs: An airport master plan was developed in December 1989 to address specific needs of the airport over the next twenty years. The intention of the plan was to optimize air service, general aviation development, and the use of airport property and facilities. The Lewiston-Nez Perce Airport Master Plan is currently being updated (1998) as scheduled. Planned future improvements include the reconstruction of taxiways and one runway.

Public Transit:

Inventory: Public transit in Nez Perce County is limited. Regional Public Transportation (RPT) operates a demand-response (dial-a-ride) service that is available to all members of the greater Lewiston-Clarkston Area and to and from the City of Asotin. Specialized services are also provided to community clubs.

Since 1993, RPT operating as Valley Transit has experienced significant increases in demand. Service in generally provided to seniors, the disabled, and youth; however, the service is available to the general public. Service destinations often include employment, medical facilities, activities for the disabled, nutrition sites for seniors, school, shopping, etc.

Future Needs: The demand for public transportation in Nez Perce County is increasing. Demand response service has been successful, however, regularly scheduled service is desired. The Citizen Advisory Committee feels that a privately or publicly operated bus service could serve citizens in outlying communities with transportation to and from the city of Lewiston. This service would operate along the main arterials.

TRANSPORTATION GOAL AND POLICIES

Goal Statement:

To provide an adequate, safe, and efficient transportation system for the movement of people and goods.

Policies:

  1. Nez Perce County should increase the scope, efficiency, and safety of transportation systems by making transportation planning an integral part of the total planning effort.
  2. Nez Perce County should encourage the appropriate public agencies to prevent, reduce or eliminate hazards and traffic conflicts along major arterials through appropriate regulations and standards.
  3. Nez Perce County should require that new subdivisions and major developments contribute to necessary upgrading of access roads on which they are located.
  4. Nez Perce County should limit commercial signs and sign lighting along major routes to avoid distractions for motorists and prevent scenic degradation.
  5. Nez Perce County should cooperate with road district, city, county, and state agencies on plans to improve roads and other transportation facilities.
  6. Nez Perce County should cooperate with the Idaho Transportation Department regarding their access management requirements when reviewing development along state maintained roads.
  7. Nez Perce County should maintain and improve facilities for air travel in the county to meet the growing needs of commercial and recreational aviation.
  8. Nez Perce County should cooperate with city of Lewiston to provide for aviation-oriented businesses and industries located near the airport.
  9. Nez Perce County should cooperate with City of Lewiston to apply airport zoning as needed to ensure a compatible environment for aircraft operations as well as surrounding residential areas.
  10. Nez Perce County should assist in planning studies to determine future air travel needs and improvements required for the airport.
  11. Nez Perce County should develop Nez Perce County's potential as a transportation center for the interior Northwest region.
  12. Nez Perce County should encourage development of business and industry that can take advantage of the multi-modal transportation capabilities of the area.
  13. Nez Perce County should cooperate with Port of Lewiston in efforts to improve port capabilities.
  14. Nez Perce County should continue to support the development of public transportation systems to serve populated areas of the county.

Functional Class
Figure Map-3

Functional Class Figure Map 3

Transportation Strategy Chart

 

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