IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - If you use Bellin Road to get to the interstate in Idaho Falls, you may have noticed the route was blocked off last Friday and Saturday. That's because the property owner is trying to send a message.
Larry Reinhart owns the 260 foot stretch of gravel that hundreds drive through as a short-cut to I-15. He said the connecting cul de sac that ends Bellin Road is now the city's land, so he's asking them to turn it into a paved, legal roadway.
Marion Weitfle drove right by the "No thru traffic" sign on Tuesday evening.
"Well, it's shorter to get where I'm going," said Weitfle.
Weitfle has lived just off of Bellin Road for 42 years. The legal road to I-15 means 4 to 5 extra minutes winding through country roads.
"Pave it, put some signs up," suggested Weitfle.
That's what Reinhart wants too. He said he's happy to pave his portion then give it to the city. Reinhart said he's been fighting for open access for the past ten years.
"For the life of me I can't figure out how we got here," he said.
Reinhart looked back to the building of the Sunnyside Road interchange, questioning why a proposed belt loop was never built and why the city didn't originally use Bellin to connect Broadway to Sunnyside.
"The initial plans I can find and (what) we talked about was that Bellin Road would dead end and there wouldn't be a connection," said Idaho Falls Planning Director Renee Magee.
Magee said a study two years ago showed 1,500 cars cut through the Bellin cul de sac.
"The last recommendation from planning was there be emergency access only," said Magee.
Now, Magee said the city will consider making Bellin a real road until Old Butte is extended into a belt loop. But, she said, that could be 10 to 15 years.
"If there's a public meeting, I don't want to go and have 30 people on Bellin against it, rather the 1,500 to 1,600 who are driving through in their car show up," said Reinhart. "And that use should dictate whether the road opens or not."
Being in the development business, Reinhart said he welcomes the traffic, but he wants a proper road. Drivers, too, like Weitfle, said people go through way too fast since there's no speed limit.
Magee said there will likely be a public hearing on Bellin road sometime in the next two months.