Road controversy could leave Atlanta residents snowed in

ATLANTA, Idaho (KBOI) - The drive to Atlanta, Idaho is always tough in the winter, but this year it could be almost impossible.

Just months after folks in Atlanta were forced from their homes last summer, now residents fear they may be snowed in this winter.

"You can't strand people," Atlanta resident Mary Drake said. "You just cant."

But with winter already knocking at the door, that's exactly what Drake and others are worried about.

"It's very disturbing and it makes me feel anxious," she said. "I'm very concerned about it."

The Atlanta Highway District says it fears residents may be trapped this winter.

"It's scary for us," road specialist David Gill said. "We might not have any access."

That's because there are only three roads into Atlanta from Boise. According to the Atlanta Highway District, two of these roads become too dangerous for drivers in the winter because of steep and narrow roadways. That leaves Middle Fork Road as the only option that is available to drivers all year long.

But the problem is that the road is a Boise County road that then continues into Elmore County. For the last 18 years, Boise County has been paying the Atlanta Highway District to maintain a 38-mile stretch of that road, beginning at milepost 30.

This year however, things are changing.

"Because of financial issues with Boise County, they reduced the contract they were offering," Gill said.

Gill said in 2012, Boise County paid approximately $48,000 for limited maintenance on that section of road. This year, he says they only offered to pay $40,000.

The Atlanta Highway District said that money wouldn't cover the amount of work needed to maintain the roads. They also said there were other specifics in the contract they wanted to discuss, so didn't sign it. But after that, Gill said Boise County got to decide what to do with Middle Fork Road.

"As of right now they've already put the signs up and put the notices in the paper that they're not going to be plowing snow," Gill said.

Gill said Boise County wants Elmore County to step in and provide the Atlanta Highway District with the funding they need to help keep that stretch of road maintained.

However, Boise County told KBOI they did not want to comment on the issue until after a decision was made with Elmore County Commissioners. The two counties will meet in Boise on Friday to discuss the issue.

Drake said she hopes they get everything resolved tomorrow, because life in Atlanta depends on that road.

"It's just not fair," she said. "We cannot get our mail, we cannot get groceries, we cannot get our prescriptions. Anything you can think of has been impacted."