Middleton City Council considers removal of future highway alternate route

Four lane highway

On Wednesday, September 15, the Middleton City Council will consider a revision to its Comprehensive Plan regarding the future Highway 44 that will have ripple effects for transportation far beyond the city limits.

For the last two decades ITD has partnered with City of Middleton leaders to develop an alternate route for the highway that would be constructed to the south of the current roadway. The City Council will consider eliminating the alternate route from its comprehensive plan and approve new development that would build on top of the open space currently slated for the future highway.

The future alternate route was shared at two public meetings in 2019. You can see the click on the links to see the West Half and East Half of the proposed route.

What happens to the future of the highway?

Graphic: Existing traffic, ten thousand trips per day. 2045 no-build traffic, twenty-four thousand trips per day.

The last two decades of work have laid the groundwork for a transportation network that can support the extreme growth in Middleton, Star, and Eagle.

The growth projections for the Middleton area, which are somewhat conservative, suggest 24,000 cars will drive on the highway by the year 2045. Today, the daily trip count is around 10,000. Congestion already experienced will only get worse. As highway congestion increases, typically the number of crashes also increases.

ITD’s Mission is “Your Safety. Your Mobility. Your Economic Opportunity.” These three pillars of the Department go hand-in-hand. Fewer crashes keeps people moving, energizing commerce. The alternate route for Highway 44 would achieve these goals while accommodating for the forecasted growth in the area.

Take away the option of a future alternate route, and what happens to highway traffic is uncertain. ITD has looked at a couple options at a high level. The first option is to keep the highway as-is.

Graphic: significant delay on highway 44 in 2045 no-build scenario

The biggest “pro” of that option is the existing buildings downtown will not be impacted. The biggest con is pretty obvious – there’s no way the existing three-lane highway will effectively move 24,000 cars a day. ITD’s projected level of service for downtown intersections has nearly all of them seeing excessive delay times. In some circumstances, it could take you more than five minutes to get onto the highway from a local road.

The second option would be to add capacity to the existing highway to move more vehicles. This option is not without its downsides. We’ll share three big ones.

Impacts to existing businesses and land use

The first is the available space for the lanes. Near the fire station in particular, there is not enough room to add more lanes. In order to fit everything in, ITD will likely need to purchase existing buildings and demolish them. A preliminary scan of the total impacts of a widened highway suggests 76 different properties will be negatively impacted.

Graphic: property impacts of 100' for highway expansion
Possible property impacts to accommodate 100 feet for additional highway lanes.

Impacts to access

The second pain point comes with the existing number of roads and driveways accessing highway 44. Every access point introduces conflicts between vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists using the roadway. Transportation engineering reduces these conflict by removing accesses or restricting the movements in and out of those access points.

In order to promote safety and mobility on the existing highway alignment, ITD will likely need to install median curbs, restricting left turns on and off the highway. Similar action was taken on Eagle Road. The diagram below provides a sense of what that means for local travel options.

Graphic: access restrictions to most local roads in downtown Middleton
Similar to Eagle Road, future access on ID-44 could be restricted to right-in, right-out.

Delay for improvements

A third downside is the delay this will force on any improvements to the highway in Middleton. The process to achieve environmental clearance has taken nearly two decades already. Should the alternate route be removed from Middleton’s Comprehensive Plan, the clock on those efforts will be reset.

Environmental clearance is needed to get federal funding for transportation improvements. Pushing back that clearance another decade or two means the highway in Middleton won’t qualify for those dollars, ITD’s biggest bucket of money. Meanwhile, growth and congestion will continue.

The Council Decision

ITD has partnered with the City of Middleton on the future of Highway 44 for more than two decades. We will continue to do so. The Department strongly recommends the Council continues the City’s historic support for the alternate route and preserve the corridor in the Comprehensive Plan.

Regardless of the Council’s decision, we are committed to provide the best customer service we can. Our goal in sharing this information with the public is to bring clarity to a complicated process and to understand the downstream consequences of a decision. The folks at ITD are your friends, neighbors, and relatives. We want to see the community of Middleton grow and thrive. It is our belief that open dialogue and the best information will bring about the best results for us all.

Help prevent human-caused wildfires along roadways

With heat warnings in place throughout Idaho, widespread drought, and fire danger increasing, we can all do our part to help prevent human-caused wildfires. It only takes one spark from your vehicle to start a fire. Let’s work together to take the necessary precautions when traveling along Idaho highways this summer.

The next time you are going to hit the road, keep the following fire safety tips in mind:

  • Double check your trailer chains! Be sure they are not hanging low and dragging from your vehicle. The metal can throw sparks easily.
  • Take caution driving through dry grass or brush, and find a safer place to park! Hot exhaust pipes and heat from your vehicle can quickly catch the tall, dry grass on fire.
  • Watch your tire pressure. Driving on an exposed wheel rim can cause sparks.
  • Keep brake pads in shape. If they wear too thin, the metal on metal can make sparks.
  • Stay up to date on your vehicle maintenance. Leaking fluids and overheating engines can be dangerous fire hazards.
  • Idaho is too great to litter. Never throw cigarettes out the window.


The Idaho Transportation Department takes precautions of its own to help prevent wildfires from starting near highways. For more than 10 years, ITD and the Bureau of Land Management have partnered each spring to conduct controlled burns along highways, targeting tumbleweed early before the dry fire season sets in. When the weather heats up, it doesn’t take much for this high risk fuel to take off. Mowing and controlled burns can significantly reduce fire threat by keeping fuels to a minimum.

ITD blocks the road and manages traffic to protect BLM firefighters during the burn. Water crews protect infrastructure and keep the fire under control. Watch the video to see it all in action!


Check with the Idaho Department of Lands, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management for the latest on fire danger in your area. Before you take your next road trip, be prepared and know what current fire restrictions are in place where you are headed. Learn more fire safety tips and find contact information at idahofireinfo.com. Current highway closures and blockages due to wildfire can also be found on 511.idaho.gov.

Travel advisory issued on Idaho Highway 55 for anticipated high traffic volumes

Intersection of ID-55 and Banks-Lowman Road

The Idaho Transportation Department’s Southwest Idaho Office is issuing a travel advisory for motorists planning to use Idaho Highway 55 from Horseshoe Bend to McCall this weekend as it predicts heavy traffic volumes on the two-lane highway.

Several summer events are scheduled Thursday through Sunday in Valley and Boise Counties. Combined with the newly-announced Juneteenth National Independence Day holiday, Father’s Day recreation activities and good weather, the department anticipates a high number of vehicles using ID-55. The Department has coordinated with local event organizers and law enforcement to promote safety and mobility during the weekend.

ITD will station flaggers at the intersection of ID-55 and the Banks-Lowman Road Sunday to help manage traffic.

“We have worked with our partners in law enforcement and the business community to do the best we can to manage what we expect will be a lot of vehicles on the highway this weekend,” said Caleb Lakey, District Administrator for ITD’s Southwest Idaho Office. “There’s a good chance we will have some times where the highway is at capacity and motorists will experience delay.”

ITD advises motorists to anticipate delays during the historical peak travel times at ID-55 and the Banks-Lowman Road, which is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Suggested alternate routes include U.S. 95 and Idaho Highway 21. Be prepared and make sure your vehicle is well-maintained. Fill your tank with plenty of gas, pack extra water and snacks, and consider a restroom stop before entering the Payette River Canyon.

Several construction projects will be active on U.S. 95 and ID-55 this summer. Work will be suspended Friday through Sunday on all ID-55 projects. For more information, visit ITD’s news blog.

Idaho Highway 19 pavement rehabilitation in Homedale begins next week

highway in rural town

Reconstruction of Idaho Highway 19 (Idaho Avenue) through downtown Homedale will begin the week of June 14.

ID-19 in Homdalde
ID-19 in Homedale

The pavement rehabilitation includes milling the old road surface, replacing it with new pavement, and upgrading ADA (Americans with Disabilities) facilities, including crosswalks and pedestrian crossings.

Construction will occur on ID-19 between approximately N. 4th Street East and Railroad Ave. It is scheduled to be complete in late summer.

During construction, expect the following:

  • Work will occur between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. five days a week.
  • Business access will be maintained.
  • Drivers should anticipate a temporary gravel road surface during construction activities.
  • Two lanes of traffic will be open during construction, though some detours or flagging are possible.
  • Sidewalk access and pedestrian detours will be signed.
  • Some work will be noisy.

Drivers are encouraged to slow down and pay attention to crews working in the area.

For questions or to sign up for construction updates, please call 208.387.7072, or visit the project website at ITDprojects.org/ID19HomedaleRebuild

Travel advisory: Motorists should plan for multiple construction projects on U.S. 95 and ID-55 between the Treasure Valley and West Central Mountains destinations

Cars stopped by flagger on Idaho Highway 55

As summer travel heats up the Idaho Transportation Department wants motorists to prepare for short delays on U.S. Highway 95 and Idaho Highway 55 as several construction projects will be ongoing between the Treasure Valley and popular destinations, such as Cascade, Council, New Meadows, and McCall.

Each project will have its own timeline and unique impacts to travel. Each one listed below is linked to the project webpage, which provides additional information.Summer 2021 construction map

  1. ID-55: Donnelly to Deinhard Repaving south of McCall
  2. ID-55: Smiths Ferry Improvements south of Cascade
  3. U.S. 95: Jct I-84 to Gayway Jct Sealcoat in Fruitland
  4. U.S. 95: Pine Creek Bridge Replacement south of Cambridge
  5. U.S. 95: Little Salmon River Bridge Replacement west of New Meadows

Construction of these projects will preserve and enhance the safety, mobility, and economic opportunity on our state highway system.

“We’ve designed these projects to limit impacts to the traveling public, especially the during heavy weekend travel periods,” said Jason Brinkman, ITD Engineering Manager.  “However, we still encourage motorists to plan ahead, exercise patience, pay attention, and follow the posted signs in the work zones.”

The Department also encourages motorists to check the latest conditions and travel impacts before leaving by checking Idaho 511.

ITD doubles summer flagging resources at Idaho Highway 55 and Banks-Lowman Road to aid safety and mobility

Intersection of ID-55 and Banks-Lowman Road

The Idaho Transportation Department’s Southwest Idaho Office will double the number of days flagging will be conducted at the intersection of Idaho Highway 55 and the Banks-Lowman Road, which can see significant congestion during summer Sundays.

The Department will deploy flaggers on the six weekends this summer anticipated to have the highest number of travelers at the intersection. Historically, flaggers were deployed for the three summer holidays, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Using historical data and partnering with local event organizers, ITD is changing which days flaggers will mobilize in order to target the busiest days. The current schedule for flagging is:

  • June 20th
  • July 5th (Independence Day)
  • All remaining Sundays in July (11, 18, 25)
  • September 6th (Labor Day)

“We removed Memorial Day from our flagging schedule after we looked at years of travel data,” said Caleb Lakey, District Administrator of ITD’s Southwest Idaho Office. “We confirmed the reports of our maintenance staff that there are, on average, more cars on the road any given Sunday in July and the first weeks of August than Memorial Day. A lot of that is weather dependent, and we may still see a lot of people on the road if we have warm temperatures early on.”

ITD urges motorists to still plan for significant travel delays on ID-55 between Boise and Cascade, as well as on the local road, Banks-Lowman Road during summer weekends. Flagging the intersection relieves some congestion on Banks-Lowman Road but also slows traffic on ID-55.

“Ultimately, both highways and the intersection simply reach capacity as everyone who spent the weekend in the mountains returns home to the Treasure Valley,” said Lakey. “I urge those travelers to consider taking alternate routes or making their return outside the peak time of 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Otherwise, plan to have some delay.”

ITD is partnering with the Western Federal Land Division of the Federal Highway Administration to develop a plan for improvements at this intersection. The project launched in March 2021 and will complete environmental and geotechnical work along with preliminary design options for the intersection improvement. ITD will seek additional funding to finish design, acquire right of way, and construct the improvement.

In addition to the increased flagging days, ITD has placed new advisory signs ahead of the intersection. The new signs will advise slower speeds and alert drivers to the congestion and flagging ahead. These signs will improve the safety of the intersection and the efficiency of deploying the flaggers – a major factor in the department’s decision to increase flagging days.

The 2021 flagging operation is the direct result of robust engagement between ITD and the communities in Boise and Valley County. In fall 2019, ITD held a public meeting in Garden Valley to discuss the challenges of the intersection. Following that meeting, the department formed a community working group which spent 2020 developing this plan.

“I want to thank the community for partnering with us on this situation,” added Lakey. “We all want to see business flourish while preserving the unique beauty of Idaho’s Central Mountains. The impacts of growth in southwest Idaho is felt in every community. The public servants at ITD are doing everything we can to meet the growing needs. All users of the road need to take responsibility to plan ahead, drive well, and make wise decisions.”

ITD encourages those traveling from or through the McCall/New Meadows area to consider using U.S. 95 as an alternate route. Those with trips from Stanley or Lowman should consider using Idaho Highway 21 to avoid the congested intersection.

Be sure to Recreate Responsibly. Pack plenty of water and snacks, ensure your vehicle is well maintained, fill your gas tank before long trips, and take a restroom break before traveling through a remote location. Check out road conditions and travel delays before you leave by downloading the Idaho 511 app, available for Apple and Android devices.

ITD launches two-week virtual meeting (May 21-June 4) to share next steps for Idaho 16 extension

Idaho Highway 16 in the Treasure Valley

The Idaho Transportation Department launches a two-week online meeting today (May 21) to share plans for the next phase of extending Idaho Highway 16 through the central Treasure Valley. The meeting will be available from May 21 to June 4 at itdprojects.org/idaho16.

The meeting includes a virtual tour and design plans for the future north-south corridor, which is currently the primary route to Emmett. ITD is extending the corridor 5.5 miles south to connect with I-84.

Online Public Meeting Invite

The extension of Idaho 16 will operate as a high-speed expressway, with limited access on or off it. By 2040, the highway is expected to serve 60,000 motorists each day in the growing area between Ada and Canyon counties.

“This corridor has been in the making for many years and the community has given input at many important stages of this significant highway corridor,” said ITD Program Manager Amy Schroeder. “All of the design plans in this online meeting are consistent with the overall vision and allows ITD to proceed to construction next year.”

Phase 1 of the corridor was completed in 2014 and involved bridging Idaho 16 over the Boise River and connecting U.S. 20/26 and Idaho 44.

On Wednesday, the Idaho Transportation Board approved funding to construct the next phase of the extension. Phase 2, the focus of the online meeting, will build the remaining five miles of highway from U.S. 20/26 to I-84. This includes an interchange with I-84, connections at Franklin and Ustick Roads, and bridge structures over local roads, canals, and a railroad.

The estimated cost of this work is $170 million. It will be funded using bonds and paid off using new sales tax funds approved by the Idaho Legislature in 2021.

“The work we have done on the Idaho 16 corridor in the last few years has prepared us to quickly leverage this new funding stream,” said Schroeder. “We have an obligation to the taxpayer to make the most of the today’s low interest rates and bring needed transportation investments to Idaho quickly.”

The online meeting will include live Q&A sessions from 12-1 p.m. and 5:30-6:30 p.m. on June 2. Alternate versions of the meeting are available for those without Internet access. Please contact ITD at (208) 334-8008 or Idaho16@ITD.Idaho.gov.

I-84 Chip Seal Project From Broadway to Blacks Creek Road to begin May 22

I84 at Eisenman

This spring, crews will chip seal the travel lanes of I-84 between the Broadway and Blacks Creek Road Interchanges as well as the on and off ramps at Broadway, Gowen, Eisenman, and Blacks Creek. Work is expected to begin May 22 and is anticipated to be complete in mid-June.

Chip sealing, also called seal coating,  maximizes the taxpayers’ investment by extending the lifespan of the pavement.  A sticky slurry is sprayed on the pavement, rock chips are applied on top of the slurry for a long-lasting seal. Hot, daytime temperatures are needed to ensure a successful application.

Reduced speeds are required on fresh chip seals to protect rock chips from flying up, causing potential damage to vehicles and windshields. Before the end of each working day, crews will sweep up loose chips on all lanes.

Motorists should expect delays in the work zone along I-84 and between Exits 64 and 54 as traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction. Additionally, there will be lane closures on Gowen Road (up to Technology Way) and Blacks Creek Road near I-84. This project will require intermittent ramp closures. Detours will be signed. Check 511 for current and scheduled closures.

“The work zone for this project will be moving around quite a bit,” said ITD Project Manager Patrick Kelly. “Please check 511 regularly. Drive attentively and follow posted speed limits and detour signage. We want to get in, complete the work well, and get out as quickly as possible to limit our impacts.”

Work is anticipated to begin on May 22. Expect preliminary staging and traffic control setup on Friday, May 21. Work will be performed on the Eisenman, Gowen, and Broadway Interchanges on the weekends to reduce effects on weekday traffic per the following schedule:

  • May 22, 23     Project Start @ Eisenman Interchange
  • May 29, 30     Detours @ Gowen Interchange
  • June 12, 13    Detours @ Broadway Interchange
  • June 20          Work substantially complete

For more info visit the project website: ITDprojects.org/BroadwayToEisenman/

For updated traffic information on ramp closures and detours, call 511 or go to the 511 website at 511.idaho.gov/, which also host webcams showing traffic status at  the Eisenman Interchange and Broadway Interchange.

ID-55 Construction Transitions to Summer Schedule in Coming Weeks

excavator on road

Starting May 17, road closures on ID-55 between Smiths Ferry and the Rainbow Bridge will shift to a new schedule: Monday through Thursday, 12 – 2 p.m. Please note that opening times may change due to unforeseen circumstances, such as equipment, weather and daily blasting results. Outside of the closure window, the road will be one-way alternating traffic with a 15-minute delay. This will continue through May 27, the end of the spring schedule.

For Memorial Day weekend, Friday, May 28, through Monday, May 31, the road will be fully open to two-way traffic.

The summer schedule will start Tuesday, June 1. ID-55 will be reduced to one-lane alternating traffic Monday through early Friday and then will be fully open to two-way traffic through Sunday. This schedule will be in place through early September.

Visit itdprojects.org/ID55smithsferry for more information or to sign up for email and text alerts, or call (833) 913-ID55 to speak to a project representative

Overnight closure on I-84 between Eagle Road and I-184 Monday for utility work

Interstate 84 will be closed between Eagle Road and I-184 (The Connector) for three hours overnight Monday, May 10th to allow Idaho Power crews to work over the roadway.

Idaho Power will be stringing new power lines adjacent to Cloverdale Road. To safely work over I-84, the utility company will install a net over the highway. The installation will require daytime work on the shoulder. Then, from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. on May 10th, I-84 will be closed as crews erect the netting.

During the closure, I-84 traffic will be diverted to local roads. Eastbound traffic will exit at Eagle Road (Exit 46), travel along Overland Road, and re-enter the Interstate at Cole/Overland (Exit 50). Westbound I-84 and I-184 traffic will be detoured at Cole/Overland and Franklin Road (Exit 1) respectively. They will travel on Franklin Road and re-enter the Interstate at Eagle Road.

Detour route for cloverdale Road overpass closure

The Ada County Highway District will be actively managing signal timing on Overland and Franklin Roads during the closure to maximize the efficiency of those routes. ITD recommends the traveling public plan trips around the closure time or anticipate significant delays through the closure area.

Idaho Power estimates placing the new lines will take 8-10 days. A second closure of the Interstate will be required when that work is complete to remove the netting.

For questions about Idaho Power’s project, contact Sven Berg, Idaho Power Corporate Communications Specialist, at sberg@idahopower.com or (208) 388-2905.