Hailey, Idaho

Main Street Vision and Design Project

Location: Hailey, Idaho
Completed Date: February 2016
Partner: City of Hailey, Mountain Rides


Challenge 

Highway 75 is a primary transportation and commercial corridor passing through the center of Hailey, Idaho. It is an important connector between the communities of Ketchum and Sun Valley and “down valley” communities of Hailey, Bellevue and elsewhere in southern Idaho. Highway 75 is also the 5-lane Main Street of Hailey, Idaho, a vibrant community of 8,000 people located along Idaho’s Big Wood River and surrounded by some of Idaho’s most scenic mountain ranges. In the past, Hailey’s economy has been largely dependent on construction and service-sector employment in the “up-valley” resort communities.  However, the recent recession as well as several major fires, have highlighted the need for economic diversification in the valley.  While scenery and “quality of life” remain some of Hailey’s largest assets for growing the valley’s economy, traffic volume and speed on Highway 75 through Hailey have the effect of discouraging bicycle and pedestrian activity on Main Street, discouraging a pedestrian-based economy, as well as bisecting the city and making important connections across town difficult or unsafe. The City of Hailey and local partners attended a New Mobility West Community Mobility Institute training and recently completed a bicycle/pedestrian plan in which the public identified improved bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on Main Street as top priorities for the community and for local economic development.  

Key Activities

Partnering with Project for Public Spaces, Community Builders and the local team conducted outreach, research and design activities to develop a range of recommendations for the Main Street in Hailey and adjoining areas.  Outreach included an online survey, a public place-mapping event, stakeholder interviews, walk audits of Main Street and a presentation booth at Hailey’s Holiday Square Festival. Community Builders and PPS combined the results of the outreach with current traffic data to generate several different design concepts for Main Street.

Outputs 

The immediate output of this project was a series of short and long term recommendations, and visual tools, to help the City of Hailey and its partners understand tradeoffs associated with making changes to Main Street.

The City of Hailey was able act quickly on some of the recommendations and used the momentum from the workshop to seek funding for several projects, including:

  • Bike lanes and pedestrian paths connecting and adjoining Main Street, funded through a local levy
  • Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to local schools was funded through Idaho TAP funding
  • Parklet in front of the Liberty Theater on Main Street was funded through a partnership between the City, Sun Valley Center for the Arts and local realtors.

Key Recommendations

The City of Hailey was advised to start with inexpensive and exploratory interventions (Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper or "LQC"). This will allow residents to get a feel for the possible longer term changes, and build support for this vision by allowing residents to gradually become comfortable with a less auto oriented environment.

These placemaking recommendations fall into three strategic focus areas aimed at (1) enhancing the sense of place on neighborhood streets, (2) recapturing the pedestrian identity of Main Street and (3) improving connections between Hailey's many assets.

Specific recommendations include:

Bring Public Spaces to Life

Hailey is blessed with an excellent street grid and a diversity of attractive streetscapes ranging from an urban Main Street to charming residential and rural street types. However, in many instances they are oriented entirely towards automotive use and do little to add to the pedestrian character and vitality of the town.

The City of Hailey is recommended to work with partners, businesses and citizens to change the feel of residential and downtown streets by creating temporary and inexpensive traffic calming devices, seating areas, pop-up public spaces and street painting.

Visually Re-program Main Street

Like many western towns, Hailey's Main Street serves the double function of a state highway and historic downtown corridor. Because of this, goals for efficient traffic flow must be balanced with the community’s goals of achieving a vibrant downtown core for pedestrians, families and many local businesses. This balance can be achieved by programming the streetscape with visual cues that encourage drivers to "downshift" from a highway driving mentality to town or neighborhood driving mentality. Visual cues can include pronounced gateway treatments, visible bike corrals, parklets, public art and textured or painted crosswalks and intersections. These improvements must be coordinated with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD).

Network Assets

Few western communities have the abundance of natural and community resources that Hailey possesses. Unfortunately, many of them are difficult or dangerous to access on foot or by bike.

Instead of encouraging people to bike through town on their way to a trail or the skate park, the current system encourages maximum car use and forfeits the social, cultural and economic exchanges that would occur if people were passing each other on downtown sidewalks or residential neighborhoods.

The trailheads at Quigley and Croy canyons, the skate park and icehouse complex, the BCRD, the Big Wood River and Hailey's downtown core should be networked, leveraging the accessibility and value of these assets. The City of Hailey should work with partners to expand bike lanes, greenways, alleyways and even explore fun transportation forms, such as an "urban single track." This growing infrastructure network should be accompanied by unique, fun and artful wayfinding.

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