Wildlife/vehicle conflicts lead to lower nighttime speed limit

A new nighttime speed-limit restriction on Idaho 75 north of Hailey took effect this week, designed to minimize conflicts between wildlife and vehicles. The goal to keep wildlife alive originated with a group of Hailey third graders last year.

The speed limit will be reduced to 45 mph between McKercher Boulevard and Buttercup Road and night (dusk until dawn), in an effort to reduce collisions and fatalities of wildlife and increase safety for drivers.

The reduced speed zone was determined after a study of the wildlife collisions in the Hailey-to-Ketchum corridor and included exact locations, time of day, weather and light conditions. Idaho 75 in the area north of Hailey had the highest number of nighttime wildlife-vehicle collisions, most during dry and clear conditions.

During the 2007-2013 study, 32 of 60 crashes in the 2.5-mile section involved wildlife, primarily deer and elk. Most of the crashes (23) were in dark conditions, while another four occurred during dawn or dusk hours.

Speed limit signs will be installed to designate the beginning and end of the reduced speed zone and includes light-sensitive warning beacons. Installation of the speed limit change was delayed by delivery of parts and equipment.

The night-only speed limit reduction follows a letter of support of the Blaine County Regional Transportation Committee after the recommendation of its wildlife crossing subcommittee.

“The speed limit reduction is a first step in a comprehensive approach to address wildlife crossing issues that included solutions which will be identified as short, medium, and long-term goals,” stated the letter of support from Blaine County Commissioner and committee chair Angenie McCleary.

The daytime speed limit in the corridor will remain at 55 mph.

Published 10-25-13