Warm Springs; roundabout option

City staff says that a roundabout could increase traffic efficiency and safety at the intersections of Warm Springs Road with Lewis and 10th streets.

One long-term option for Warm Springs Road would bring it into Ketchum’s existing grid formation, creating new intersections in the process.

The Ketchum City Council is considering significant changes to Warm Springs Road, Lewis Street, 10th Street and Saddle Road, weighing options that could build a new roundabout or even realign the roads to create a standard, square city block.

The most immediate goal is to calm traffic in this corridor, according to an initial presentation from city staff last week.

“Warm Springs Road is overbuilt. It’s designed to travel more at a 25-30 mph rate, so we need an engineering solution if we want the behavior to change,” said City Administrator Jade Riley.

In total, four project options were presented to the council, two short term and two long term. The council more or less agreed on the less intensive short-term option, which came recommended by both Riley and HDR, a firm retained for the project. That proposal would use cones and repainting to tweak Warm Springs Road from Saddle to Lewis, as opposed to building a full island in the median.

Other short-term changes could be implemented before summer. That plan would start the reorganization of Warm Springs Road from Saddle Road to Lewis Street and construct a full sidewalk, curb and gutter on Warm Springs Road between Main Street and 10th Street. From Saddle to Lewis, the center turning lane would be removed and a painted bike lane added. Sidewalks would run up the north side of 10th Street to state Highway 75. And, the city would add an island with a lit sign signaling traffic to stop for oncoming bikers where the path is split by Warm Springs Road.

Councilmembers Michael David, Amanda Breen and Courtney Hamilton expressed various levels of support for the potential changes, while Councilman Jim Slanetz was less enthused with the presentation.

“I do agree people go too fast through [this area], but I don’t know if we need to add all these sidewalks,” he said, arguing that some of them would not be used enough to merit building.

Bradshaw said that the pilot project will reveal more about the issue, calling it a good place to start.

The two long-term options, which wouldn’t be implemented until around 2025, would both require significant construction.

The first proposal detailed two types of roundabouts: a standard, circular one at the intersection of Warm Springs Road and 10th Street, or a “dog-bone” roundabout—named for its elongated shape—that would take up that intersection as well as the one at Lewis Street and Warm Springs Road. Either roundabout would increase traffic efficiency and safety, according to the city presentation, but would eliminate some parking spaces and decrease pedestrian and bicycle efficiency.

The second long-term proposal would reshape the entire area, standardizing it with the rest of Ketchum’s grid-style layout. This project would realign 10th Street to Warm Springs Road and Lewis to 10th Street, creating two new squared-off intersections. Warm Springs Road would also be straightened. While this would increase pedestrian and bicycle travel in the area, it would have an outsized effect on adjacent businesses, according to city staff.

“The biggest thing I would want to know is how the property owners feel about each of these plans,” said Courtney Hamilton. She said she would not support a proposal that realigned the whole area if business owners were not in favor of it.

The next step is for HDR to gather public and business feedback on each plan, adjust them, and then present them to the council again. At that point, councilmembers will likely choose two plans, one long-term and one short-term, to move forward with. There is no set timetable for these steps, although the city hopes parts of the short-term plan will be implemented for the summer, so action should come soon. 

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