Planner reports on Lewiston transportation issues

By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune | 0 comments

Motorists can enter Idaho State Highway 128 from more than 10 places between 18th Street North and the Lewiston Rose Garden.

One of the access points is about 600 feet long, the equivalent of two city blocks.

“You have no idea when a vehicle is going to come out because it’s all completely open,” said Lisa Key, a senior planner with a Spokane consulting firm.

Key spoke at a meeting Thursday at the Lewiston Community Center where she was gathering ideas about how to correct a number of transportation issues at the Port of Lewiston.

Her work is being paid for by the Port of Lewiston, the Lewis-Clark Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Lewis-Clark Terminal.

Her findings will go into a report that will be finished in December to guide those entities as they develop roads and railroads at the Port of Lewiston north of the Clearwater River, west of U.S. Highway 12 and south of Idaho State Highway 128.

One of the initial findings is that the area has four heavily used entrances: Sixth Avenue North, Third Avenue North, 20th Street North and North-South Highway.

“Part of the problem is it’s just willy-nilly,” Key said.

A number of options could fix that, Key said, such as using 18th Street North or 18th Street North and Sixth Avenue North as the primary entrance into the port.

The study is also examining a number of ways to improve rail. Right now, for example, only one track serves the port’s two container yards.

It’s on the north container yard, not the south container yard next to the Clearwater River, where the port has its container dock. And it can only handle one train at a time.

One possibility is adding a line that goes to the south container yard big enough to serve two trains and putting a second track into the north container yard, Key said.

In the long term, Key said infrastructure to handle a unit train of 110 cars might be built if the port encountered a circumstance where barge traffic was stopped.

“It costs (railroads) less to operate, so you benefit in lower rates,” Key said.

All of the possibilities need to be looked at more deeply to see if they belong in the final report, Key said.

“They’re all for-instances,” she said. “We have to model them and see how they’re going to work.”

Williams may be contacted at

[email protected] or (208) 848-2261.