Ken Levy

TVN Staff

Look for changes in truck routes to alleviate at least some of the big truck traffic rumbling through downtown.

The Driggs City Council decided Tuesday to put “no through truck” signage at Cottonwood Corner, add truck route signs and coordinate with Teton County and the Idaho Transportation Department on how best to handle truck restrictions.

Ski Hill Road and South Fifth Street and Johnson Avenue will no longer be designated truck routes, and talks with the county would include possible truck restrictions at Cemetery Road and 1000E.

Recent heavy truck traffic along Ski Hill Road and through downtown Driggs had at least two business owners fuming over lost revenue.

Tina Walker, who runs Teton Valley Cabins on Ski Hill Road, said she lost 3-4 clients who checked out early and were given refunds due to excessive noise from constant truck traffic in recent weeks.

Walker said she counted 50 trucks pass her place in an hour during the peak of the Highway 33 project between Tetonia and Newdale.

“They started at 6 a.m. and it was just insane,” she said, in an interview.

Overall, she said, she estimates about $1,000 in losses, plus complaints from other customers.

Guch Lombardi said her and her husband’s businesses are way down due to “several hundred trucks a day” passing her place.

“It’s negatively affecting business, it’s a negative visitor experience,” Lombardi said. Visitors trying to enjoy outdoor experiences at Alpine Wines and other venues offering outdoor amenities can’t have conversations due to the noise, she said.

Truck traffic has slowed somewhat this week following work on the Highway 33 project, Walker said, but dump trucks and heavy transfer vehicles still pass her place at a rate of about 10 an hour.

 “That job may be done, but what if they get another [road] job,” said Walker. “Will it start up again?”

“That project has a way to go,” said Mayor Dan Powers.

Walker said she wants to see truck traffic limited on Ski Hill Road if they’re not working downtown, with alternate routes considered so they’re not all coming through the Main Street intersection downtown.

She suggested trucks could take 1000E. to Stateline Road, which could save gas “without having to stop and go and dodge kids,” she said.

But in the city, there is no alternative route that is less impactful, said Stephen Zollinger, city attorney.

Businesses are trying to make a living and “I can’t think of anything more unpleasant” for those offering outdoor amenities such a food or wine, she said.

“Summer is our only season here and this problem needs to go away, this is not working for me,” she told Powers through the city Web site.  

Doug Self, Driggs planning and zoning administrator, responded to Walker via email and said the city has addressed truck noise issues by prohibiting engine braking and adopting designated truck routes “which are required to be used for most city projects, but otherwise are voluntary at this time.”

Ski Hill Road by Teton Valley Cabins is currently a designated truck route and was actually built to accommodate trucks with legal load weight restrictions, Self said. The road leads to gravel pits on the east side of town.

In general, he said, “noise is not considered a nuisance unless there is some malicious and willful intent to disturb the peace and quiet of a neighborhood. Simply operating a dump truck in an otherwise legal fashion would not constitute a nuisance.”

Teton County has hours of operation restrictions for most if not all of the gravel pits east of the Driggs Cemetery, he said.

Although Walker’s property is outside the city limits, Ski Hill is a city road because the city has annexed property on the south side of the road.

“I checked back on several conditional use permits issued for the gravel pits east of Driggs,” said Curt Moore, Teton County planner, in an email. “The hours of operation are 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Regardless of the hauling company or gravel source, those operational hours apply.”

Moore said a special one-time exemption was made to allow hauling operations on a Sunday.  

“If operations are taking place outside of permitted times, then we would like to know the details of which company was involved, and where and when this was taking place,” he said.

In the short term, Powers said, he’ll talk to contractors regarding alternate routes.

TVN en Espanñol

La rutas de los camiones se cambiarán. La ciudad de Driggs pondrá señales vial a Cottonwood Corner. Ski Hill Road, Fifth Street y Johnson Ave. no serán rutas para camiones. Los dueños de negocios en Driggs se quejaron del ruido del trafico de camiones manejando desde la gravera en Driggs a la zona de obras entre Tetonia y Newdale. Dijeron que causó perdidas de negocios. Tina Walker, la dueña de Teton Valley Cabins en Ski Hill Road estimó que perdió $1,000 de negocios. Tuvo que revolver dinero a 3 o 4 clientes que salieron temprano a causa del ruido. Dijo que más que 50 camiones pasan adelante de su lugar en la hora pica del trafico. Los dueños de restaurantes en el centro con asientos afuera, también se quejaron que el ruido perturba a los clientes.

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