First, you have to understand the way the powers that be around here think. Big and glitzy is good.
This is northern Idaho. Hunting and fishing territory and more outdoor retailers than you can shake a stick at. But when Cabela's showed an interest those powers started throwing concessions at them like confetti at a parade.
Cabela's wanted it's own intersection off I-90. No problem! The final agreement was that they would build it themselves and by so doing would not have to pay sales tax to the state until they recouped the cost. The customer, of course, still pays the tax.
Wonderful. The store is about to have it's soft opening and droves are expected. There is just one small problem. The new intersection has yet to be built and a bridge that has to be utilized for access is failing. Remember Minneapolis a few months ago??
It seems, too, that the bridge is in Washington which adds another layer of bureaucracy to the process. Traffic studies predict 200 customers a day. Another bridge of the same design just three miles away failed back in 1992. Weight restrictions have been rushed into place. Those pesky motor homes are heavy, don't you know. I'm not an engineer, so how do they enforce those weight restrictions anyway??
Okay, the store opens today, Friday. The commissioners will try to keep the weight restrictions in place until the bridge is replaced in about three and a half years. Three and a half years!
It is to take approximately one and a half years to actually build; it is not slated to begin until 2010 and environmental concerns could delay it even more. Yep, all those cars from a collapse would surely pollute the river!
In all the articles I've been reading about this issue, there has been nothing about a time line for the new intersection.
How much increased stress will the bridge be able to withstand and for how long? Realistically?
Oh well, Idaho has its new Cabela's and a whole slew of new service sector jobs. Washington will get the law suits. And we put into office the folks who think these things through. Sheesh.