Amber Lafayette

Having spent many winter mornings myself driving over Salmon Falls Dam in Twin Falls County, I have witnessed what the combination of melting snow and lack of sunlight does to 3 Creek Road. Following another near disaster this week, residents in the area have reached a point where they are demanding the attention of county officials in an effort to make the roadway safer for travel.

In 2016, I worked with a family friend and contractor building hunting cabins a few miles past Salmon Falls Dam, in the direction of Castleford. Five days a week, we'd cross the dam between the hours of 8:30 A.M. and 9:30 A.M. I still remember looking over the side of the massive, 217-foot tall, more than century old barrier from the passenger seat of my friend's truck. Once across, it's the winding curve up and to the left that I always found to be dicey.

In December of 2020, two lives were lost when a father and son slid off 3 Creek Road while pulling a trailer. This wasn't the first time this stretch of roadway has taken lives. I chatted with Anita Young today, who lost her sister, her sister's husband and two family dogs over the edge of the dam back in 1996.

"It left two kids orphaned. It was so tragic", said Young, whose grandfather helped build the dam more than 110 years ago. "I still have many sleepless nights thinking about her. The loss affected the entire community; it's just so dangerous."

On Wednesday (February 24), a man named Wyatt Gould and another passenger were hauling cattle over the dam when the frozen road caused his trailer to slide back, pulling his truck with it. This is happening to area motorists almost on the daily from what I gathered from my conversation with Wyatt's wife Amber.

"It took everything he had not to lose control and go off the dam," said Amber. "I've had so many people call me about this, and so many have reached out."

The couple then contacted the Twin Falls Highway District, in which the road jurisdictionally lies, and had an experience they described as not pleasant.

"It's very frustrating. When you call and get totally blown off, it's frustrating," said Amber Lafayette, who detailed the exchange her husband had with a staffer on a local rants and raves page of Facebook.

I reached out to Dave Burgess who is on the highway district board, and had a very pleasant conversation with him. He sounded as if they are taking this entire matter very seriously.

"I am very much looking forward to addressing this matter at this Wednesday's (March 3) board meeting," said Burgess.

The combination of freezing snowmelt and a lack of sunshine due to the towering rock wall that shadows this section of 3 Creek Road, is what is causing many motorists to lose control. Something needs to happen sooner than later before another life is lost.

I want to thank Amber Lafayette, Anita Young and Dave Burgess for spending some time with me on the phone today. This is no doubt a serious matter that has caused a lot of pain, and not just for the families that have been directly affected by the road's unforgiving pitfalls, but it has hit the entire community hard as well. Our sincerest sympathies go out to the families who have lost loved ones.

"They need to remember, we pay taxes," said Anita Young.

Greg Jannetta

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