It’s a green light

By on October 21, 2014

Victor celebrates symbol of recent, ongoing growth.

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There are few places where a new Main Street traffic light will make the news.

Victor, Idaho, is one of those places.

Tucked into the base of the Tetons, this unassuming mountain town is showing tangible signs of sophisticated growth. And as the new traffic light turns green, and yellow and red again on Tuesday for (officially) the first time since construction began in August, this is only the most recent focus on the larger picture for not only Main Street but the city itself.

“We’re excited to unveil the new Main Street this week,” said Victor Mayor Zach Smith on Monday. “We’re grateful to HK Construction for working around the clock to make sure this project was finished right and on time.”

Years in the making, much of the changes will be subtle, but the devil is in the details, and if you only make the reverse commute to Victor for Music on Main in the summer time, the changes will be as noticeable as when the City of Driggs went through a similar renaissance three years ago (I’m sure you’ve noticed on your way to Targhee).

Sidewalks, the Teton Pass trail that will connect Wilson with Victor and the Depot Project that will produce a cornerstone for the city; this small town will realize almost a $3 million infusion thanks to local nonprofits, grants, state funding and city energy.

But Victor was always ahead of the game. During the development boom, Victor grew at a rate of 73 percent, almost three times the rate of Teton County, Idaho, as a whole. A self-imposed moratorium on development in 2005 helped city leaders get a handle on the skyrocketing real estate game. And in 2008, the City of Victor secured a Heart and Soul grant from the Orton Family Foundation. Working with other government factions and local nonprofits, the grant created “Envision Victor,” a community wide initiative that connected the emotional “sense of place” with the “on the ground” development plans for the future.

However, the city had to make a few adjustments to the Main Street plans along the way. Because of state budget cuts over the last few years, the pool of money slated for Victor’s Main Street redesign and completion had been shaved from more than $3 million in 2010 to $1.3 million.

And the road to the future hasn’t always been a smooth ride. Reverse angle parking still remains a tender spot for some in Victor who miss the days of nose-in parking. Reverse angle parking will remain, as will the bike strips along the Main Street. The sidewalk’s “bulb outs” are laced with new street lamps and new trees line Center Street from east to west. The city will plant a limited amount of trees along Main Street at a later date, and only a limited amount because of waterline considerations.

Another highlight for the city was its acquisition last summer of a Federal Lands Access Program grant for a $1.7 million, multi-use, off-road pathway project connecting Moose Creek trailhead near Victor south to the Wyoming state line. This new pathway will provide safe access to the Pass and will also connect to other popular trails along the highway. The city is still working to provide some funding required by the grant and through the support of an animus donor as well as TVTAP. Fundraising has been steady.

The City of Victor purchased the old Depot Station on the west side of town in 2011 and this summer will begin the first phase of its reconstruction with a Federal Highway Administration Scenic ByWay grant. A landing pad for many pioneers, it will once again become a stopping point for those traveling along the scenic byway.

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