Franklin County officials to study building new road

Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldMarch 19, 2014 

Franklin County will study building a new county road, but don't expect to drive on it anytime soon.

About 76 people signed a petition requesting the 2.5-mile road between East Vineyard Drive and East Foster Wells Road east of Highway 395 so that farm vehicles can stay off the highway.

Commissioners said they were legally required to either authorize a feasibility study or tell the people asking for the road to pay for the right of way. That could cost more than $1 million.

Commissioners voted unanimously to have County Engineer Matt Rasmussen to do the study. They will then have a public hearing before making a decision.

But commissioners said Wednesday the road won't be built until there's a need for it. And that could be some time away.

Donald Beus, who owns farm land between the two roads, filed the petition but was not at the meeting. He could not be reached by Herald on Wednesday.

Eltopia farmer Clint Didier and his brother, Curt, spoke at Wednesday's meeting, claiming most of the people who signed the petition don't live near the road.

"You're probably talking $4 million for that road," Curt Didier said. "It looks to me like one or two people are really pushing for something they want everybody else to pay for."

A similar petition was filed in support of the road last fall, but it was found to be lacking enough valid signatures, said Public Works Director Matt Mahoney.

County Commissioner Brad Peck, who, like Clint Didier, is running for the Congressional seat being left open by retiring Rep. Doc Hastings, said the road doesn't appear to benefit farmers.

"I don't see anything with the road that solves the existing challenges of getting products to market," Peck said.

Commissioners said doing the study will allow the county to be prepared if it becomes a higher priority.

"If you built two big processing facilities out there, you might need the access," Peck said.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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