HAYDEN — A decade-old plan to connect Ramsey Road near Lancaster Avenue in Hayden, allowing a continual flow of traffic between Coeur d’Alene and Spirit Lake, is closer to reality.
The latest preliminary design would have the road — where it dead ends near the Coeur d’Alene airport — continue easterly by connecting into Buckles Road, then sweep north and west over an agricultural field east of the Hayden Little League baseball fields.
From there, it would cross Lancaster and reunite with North Ramsey Road.
The plan to connect Ramsey Road near the Lancaster corridor was among proposals in Hayden’s 2007 land use plan.
“It’s been in the books for 12 or 13 years,” said Alan Soderling, Hayden’s engineer.
An earlier design had the road extension skirting the end of an airport runway, but new laws prohibit construction in the airport zone. They require that any Ramsey Road realignments make a wide arc around the runway’s eastern approach.
“We had to go farther to the east to get around the airport,” Soderling said.
That means the latest design of the road hooks into Buckles Road, a residential and commercial area, before swinging northwest using a part of Reed Road.
Connecting the sections of Ramsey Road is important, Soderling said, because it gives one more alternative for north and south travelers who have resigned themselves to using U.S. 95 or Highway 41.
As Kootenai County’s population climbs, adding more motorists to streets and roads that once saw only moderate use, another north-south route is a welcome alternative.
“It’s a pretty important roadway,” Soderling said.
Once the two sections are connected, motorists can drive north from Northwest Boulevard in Coeur d’Alene to Highway 54, which connects Spirit Lake and Athol.
“It’s the only road that can make that connection,” he said.
Landowners in Hayden whose property is affected by the project were concerned with noise, increased traffic and safety.
“(It) negatively impacts private access to homes and businesses,” Jillian Bernstein wrote in a comment sheet during a September public hearing.
Bernstein was concerned about the right of way and “safety concerns for children and pets in the area.”
Some residents wanted a traffic light while others urged designers to add a roundabout where necessary.
Pete Gabel recommended speed limits be reduced to 25 mph and that logging trucks be prohibited from using the road in the residential zone.
Concerns will continue to be addressed,
Jeff Miles of the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC), which provides personnel and funding for community road projects, said the planned Ramsey alignment has changed a dozen times over the years.
“We still have a lot of design work to do,” Miles said.
Although easement purchases may begin this year, Miles doesn’t foresee the project skyrocketing to completion.
“It’s moving faster than it has in the past, but I don’t see it happening real fast,” he said.