#4ThePeople: Higher fees proposed to fix Kootenai Co.’s battered roadways

KOOTENAI CO., Idaho — With a little more than three weeks until Election Day, a lot is on the line — including some major road projects in Kootenai County.

Voters will be asked: would you pay some higher fees if it means fixing some major trouble spots?

There are 12 projects slated that would benefit from a new car tab fee of $50 and $25 for motorcycles. The last major investments in the Kootenai County area took place around 50 years ago; and since then, the community as a whole has done a lot of growing.

“Too much, there’s a lot of population in Kootenai County that has skyrocketed and they don’t seem to realize that these roads were built 20-30 years ago,” said one woman 4 News Now spoke to.

Those who live and work in Kootenai County agree that the roads have become more congested, leading to longer commutes and more dangerous driving conditions — problems that could be fixed with funds from a new registration fee.

“Now that we have the population, people are just impatient, they’re not paying attention to the roads,” she said. “They’re not paying attention to the other drivers and there’s a lot of accidents because of that.”

While economic growth and development have continued through the decades, some residents feel now is a good time to get ahead.

“I think that the growth is coming here whether some of us like it, some of us enjoy it,” said Emma Woodridge. “I think it’s better to plan now for that growth that’s coming and be better prepared for it.”

The plans include widening I-90 from the state line to the Sherman Interchange, improving Hayden Avenue from Highway 95 to Huetter and a new overpass linking Appleway to Ironwood.

“We could always use better roads, especially with the potholes from winter and all that — always could use better roads,” said Daylon Church.

And while most believe improved roads is a good thing, there are others who believe the funds are being used in the wrong place now.

“You know, all our tax paying dollars go towards fixing these roads, but why are they making bicycle paths and not fixing our highways?” said our first respondent. “We’ve got a very dangerous highway out there, 95 is a very dangerous highway and very little being done about it. It irritates me.”

If this measure passes, registration fees will start to be collected January 1st of 2021 and run through the end of 2041.