Kootenai County partners with ITD to build new path along US-95

US-95 Path

Kootenai County signed a maintenance agreement yesterday with the Idaho Transportation Department to maintain a multi-use path that will extend along 19 miles of US-95 in northern Idaho.

Per the agreement, ITD will reconstruct approximately eight miles of the existing path along the highway from Appleway Avenue to Garwood Road during the summer of 2019. The department will also construct a new path from Garwood Road north to the county line, with construction anticipated in 2020 and 2021.

The entire path will cost $3.2 million to rebuild and construct out to the county line. The county will receive $50,000 from ITD to help with future maintenance responsibilities.

Funds to reconstruct the existing path will come from a $5.1 million FASTLANE grant, which was awarded to ITD and the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization in October 2016 to optimmize the US-95 corridor. To enhance mobility and safety through the corridor, grant funding will also be used to achieve uniform signal spacing, which will require the addition and elimination of some signals.

As ITD continues to design projects to expand US-95 to four lanes, the trail could be extended north to Sagle. The department is currently working with local jurisdictions to construct a new path from the Kootenai County line to Trails End Road in Bonner County as part of future improvements.

State code prevents the department from building paths without first finding local jurisdictions committed to maintaining them. The trail between Appleway Avenue and Garwood Road, which was built in the 1980s, predates this policy.

The agreement with the county eliminates the department’s last path to maintain in the state.

Child Pedestrian Safety projects start in spring

BOISE – A dozen sidewalk and pathway projects benefiting child pedestrian safety will be built this year across the state beginning this spring.

There were 71 eligible project applications requesting more than $12M in funds to consider in this year’s funding cycle (there was just $2M in funding available). The maximum award is $250,000. Construction must be completed before the end of the year.

The projects are thanks to collaboration between the Idaho Transportation Department and the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council, after a legislative effort last year. They are funded with general fund surplus money approved by the Idaho Legislature during the 2017 session.

The following 12 projects were approved for funding:

Location        Amount
Ashton            $250,000
Title: Main Street sidewalk improvements
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk and lighting improvements along Main St. (ID-47) to connect with the existing pedestrian system at the high school.

Blackfoot         $171,000
Title: Ridge Crest Elementary Safety Improvements Project
Description: This project will provide a 575-foot section of sidewalk along Airport Road to extend the sidewalk from Ridgecrest Elementary to the park. Additional safety improvements include a pedestrian crossing at East Airport Road.

Burley             $191,000
Title: Highland Avenue and East 19th Street Sidewalk Connection
Description: This project will provide nearly a half-mile of new sidewalk and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant ramps that connect two schools along Highland Avenue. The schools are White Pine Intermediate and Dworshack Elementary.

Caldwell          $109,446
Title: Sacajawea Elementary School Project
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk, updated ADA curb ramps, bike lanes, and streetlights, and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon along Illinois Avenue to provide a safe route to school for children travelling to Sacajawea Elementary.

Carey               $154,640
Title: Crosswalk Signage and Pedestrian Improvement Project
Description: This project will provide new curb, gutter, and sidewalk along ID-26 and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon to provide a safe crossing for pedestrians walking across the state highway.

Driggs               $125,000
Title: South 5th Street Pathway
Description: This project will provide approximately 1,600 feet of 10-foot-wide multiuse path and ADA ramps along South 5th Street, connecting four schools to residential areas. This project extends an existing safe route to school.

Firth                  $250,000
Title: Children Pedestrian Improvements
Description: This project will provide new curb, gutter, and sidewalk along Center Street from Main St. (ID-91) to the elementary school. Additional safety improvements include a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon signal on Main St.

Idaho Falls         $240,000
Title: Iona Street, Riverside Drive and Bush Elementary Connections
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk along Iona Street and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon for safe crossings at Riverside Drive (a busy street near an interchange). A second location includes sidewalk connections to Bush Elementary.

Marsing              $35,326
Title: ID-55 Sidewalk Project
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk along ID-55, connecting the public library and downtown with the elementary, middle, and high schools.

Moscow             $250,000
Title: Third Street Corridor Improvements
Description: This project will provide about 970 feet of new sidewalk along 3rd Street, connecting two elementary schools and the high school along a safe route to school. Additional safety improvements include adding center medians, curb extensions, vertical tube delineator (high-visibility markings), and school-zone lighting.

Shelley                $135,000
Title: Locust and US-91 Improvements
Description: This project will install a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon at the intersection of ID-91 and Locust Street to provide a safe pedestrian crossing for students going to the school or library.

Teton                  $28,000
Title: Child Pedestrian Safety Project
Description: This project will install Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons at two intersections along ID-33 south of Teton Elementary to provide safe crossing for students going to and from school.

ITD tests new traffic infrastructure in CDA

D1 Traffic Signal

In an effort to improve mobility at a major intersection in Coeur d’Alene, ITD’s North Idaho (District 1) traffic engineers activated a new signal function in December.

The signal at the Fourth Street on-ramp to Interstate 90 heading west now allows two lanes of traffic to turn left after yielding to oncoming vehicles and pedestrians. While local drivers may be familiar with how flashing yellow arrows function, this is the first site in the district—and the state—to use double flashing yellow arrows.

“This is one of the busiest intersections in the Coeur d’Alene metropolitan area, which is the fastest-growing area in the state,” ITD District 1 Traffic Engineer Ben Ward said. “We’re open to finding new ways to move more cars through.”

The idea began with former traffic engineer Ryan Hawkins, who first saw a signal like this while passing through Kennewick, Washington, nearly three years ago.

“Technology like this can be leveraged to maintain mobility in congested corridors,” Hawkins said. “We can’t build our way out of this congestion, so we have to identify other options to optimize the infrastructure we currently have.”

After his trip through Kennewick, Hawkins talked to signal manufacturers and brought the idea back to the department’s working groups tasked with identifying innovative solutions. Access to westbound I-90 from Fourth Street became an informal test site for the rest of the state.

Ward said he was initially concerned the public would be confused when approaching this intersection, but since activating the new function three months ago, there have been no issues.

“We haven’t received any concerned calls, and there haven’t been any crashes out there because of the signal,” Ward said. “The signal is moving traffic better.”

Since there are not many signals like this in the region, Ward plans to monitor the site to determine if this technology should be implemented at other busy intersections, such as Prairie Avenue and ID-41 in an upcoming project.

“Right now, we are still watching the signal to make sure it is safe before we start installing more,” Ward said. “So far, so good.”

Public hearing held in CDA on March 12 for US-95/Walnut Avenue/Lincoln Way intersection improvements

US-95: IC #430 to Lacrosse Ave

ITD will hold a public hearing on March 12 to gather public comment on plans to expand US-95 to four lanes through an improved US-95/Walnut Avenue/Lincoln Way intersection in Coeur d’Alene. Proposed improvements will enhance safety and mobility in the corridor.

The hearing will be held at Winton Elementary School at 920 W. Lacrosse Avenue. The hearing will follow open-house format, and the public is invited to arrive anytime between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to view displays and interact with project staff. 

The section of the highway between Upriver Road and Linden Ave, which includes the US-95/Walnut Avenue/Lincoln Way intersection, is one of the only remaining two-lane sections between Worley and Athol.

The current layout of the intersection can be confusing for drivers, as it allows US-95 thru traffic to flow freely but subjects all other movements to a three-way stop condition. Due to high traffic volumes and the complicated layout, this intersection is a high risk for crashes and near misses.

To increase safety and mobility, proposed improvements include adding an additional lane in each direction of the highway and modifying access to cross streets in the area. The project is scheduled to be constructed in 2020 for $5.4 million.

For more information on this project, or to comment online, visit the D1 page, select the Projects tab and choose “US-95: IC #430 and Lacrosse Avenue.”

Comments may also be emailed to the project manager at Kyle.Schrader@itd.idaho.gov or addressed to Kyle Schrader at Idaho Transportation Dept., 600 W. Prairie Ave., Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, 83815.

Comments will be accepted through March 26, 2018.

Replacement of Kingston Bridge east of CDA begins Feb. 26

Work will begin Monday, Feb. 26 to replace the bridge over Interstate 90 near Kingston, 30 miles east of Coeur d’Alene. This is one of several projects throughout the north Idaho region aimed at extending the service lives of aging local bridges, benefitting the safety and mobility of drivers.

Construction to replace the old Kingston bridge—built in 1967—will be completed by December.

To replace the bridge, the existing structure will be demolished and rebuilt in two phases — the first phase will begin in mid-March, and the second-phase will begin in mid-June. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction and detoured onto the on and off ramps during the scheduled nighttime demolitions. Closures for demolitions will be limited to a total of 10 nights.

ITD anticipates intermittent lane closures during the day throughout construction. Travelers are required to reduce speeds but should not expect delays.

Concrete Placing Company is the primary contractor on this $7.6 million project.

Other bridgework and replacement projects scheduled for construction this season include:

  • Replacing the Oldtown Bridge along ID-41.
  • Replacing the St. Maries Railroad Bridge and the St. Joe River Bridge along ID-3 in St. Maries.
  • Improving support structures for the Blue Creek Bay Bridge along I-90 near Wolf Lodge.
  • Improving support structures for the Coeur d’Alene River Bridge along ID-97 near Harrison.
  • Replacing the culvert over Round Prairie Creek along US-95 near Eastport.
  • Replacing the culvert over Cedar Creek along ID-3 near Clarkia.
  • Replacing the culvert over Texas Creek along ID-11 near Weippe.

Bridge projects in the district total approximately $45.3 million this year.

For construction updates on this project and other scheduled improvements, check 511.idaho.gov.

Public hearing for US-95 improvements held Jan. 31 in Coeur d’Alene

US-95 N Corridor

A public hearing will be held Wednesday (Jan. 31) to share information on proposed improvements to the section of US-95 between Interstate 90 and Idaho Highway 53 in Kootenai County. The hearing will be at the Idaho Transportation Department District 1 Office at 600 W. Prairie Avenue in Coeur d’Alene.

Proposed improvements include:

– Optimizing traffic signal spacing by removing two signals and adding two signals

– Modifying traffic signal timing

– Extending Wilbur between US-95 and Government Way

– Modifying vehicle-median crossings at non-signalized locations

– Adding new turn lanes

– Reconstructing the bike path along the highway

Proposed improvements are funded in part by a $5.1 million FASTLANE grant awarded to ITD and the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization in October 2016. FASTLANE grants recognize the nation’s top goods-movement projects.

The hearing will be in an open-house format, and those interested are invited to arrive any time between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Displays will illustrate proposed improvements, and project staff will be available to answer questions. Hearing officers will be available to record verbal testimony.

Additionally, comments may be mailed and will become part of the project record if postmarked by Feb. 15. Address them to: Carrie Ann Hewitt, 600 W. Prairie Ave., Coeur d’Alene, ID  83815. Comments also can be emailed to: carrieann.hewitt@itd.idaho.gov.

For more information on the project or to comment online, visit http://itd.idaho.gov/d1/, choose “Projects” and then choose US-95: N Corridor Access Improvements or visit the project website. Comments will be accepted Jan. 31 – Feb. 15, 2018.

ITD seeks public comment Jan. 25 in CDA on ID-41 expansion

ID-41: Prairie Ave to Boekel Rd

The Idaho Transportation Department invites the public to a hearing about the expansion of Idaho Highway 41 from Prairie Avenue to Boekel Road. The meeting will be held Jan. 25 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Coeur d’Alene office at 600 West Prairie Avenue.

The $25-million project from Prairie Avenue to Boekel Road is part of a larger project to safely accommodate the projected growth of the region by transforming ID-41 into a divided four-lane highway from Post Falls to Rathdrum.

“The improved highway will serve as a safer and more efficient north-south route to I-90,” project manager John Vaudreuil said. “Expanding ID-41 will enhance safety, improve mobility and promote economic development in the area.”

The public hearing will focus solely on the proposed changes, which are also featured on the project website at http://arcg.is/0P9aau. Improvements for this four-mile section of the highway will take two years to build, with construction beginning in 2020.

Besides expanding the highway to four lanes separated by a grassy median, the project will replace the signal at Hayden Avenue and add signals and turn lanes at Lancaster Road and Nagel Lane, Vaudreuil said.

Other features of the project include safety improvements near railroads and the possible addition of pedestrian facilities in the corridor.

To enhance safety at the railroad crossing between Hayden Avenue and Wyoming Avenue, ITD will construct a grade separation so that the highway will pass over, rather than intersect, the crossing to limit opportunities for collisions. ITD is also working with the Union Pacific Railroad to remove the crossing between Prairie Avenue and Hayden Avenue, Vaudreuil said.

ITD is evaluating the feasibility of installing a pedestrian underpass near Nagel Lane. The underpass would facilitate foot traffic across the highway, Vaudreuil said.

Should the county or nearby cities of Post Falls or Rathdrum agree to maintain it, ITD would construct a multi-use pathway along the east side of the highway to connect the two cities.

Those who cannot attend the public hearing may visit the project website to learn more and to comment. Comments will be collected from Jan. 25 to Feb. 8.

ITD engineers strive to incorporate feedback from meetings and from online comments into the design of the project, as they have done in the past.

Vaudreuil said previous comments from public meetings and contact with property owners adjacent to the project suggested a preference for an expanded, median-divided highway and wide signalized intersections, rather than roundabouts, to accommodate U-turns.

“Public comment is critical to the project’s design and helps us deliver the best possible project to our users,” Vaudreuil said.

Paving awards are big win for north Idaho projects and drivers

COEUR D’ALENE – Three north Idaho projects received recognition from the National Asphalt and Paving Association just before Christmas for high-quality paving, signifying a big win for the Idaho Transportation Department, the contractor (Poe Asphalt Paving Inc.), and most importantly, the region’s drivers.

Paving for the second stage of US-95 near Sheep Creek, US-95 near Cougar Creek, and (pictured above) Sherman Avenue to Blue Creek Bay Bridge on Interstate 90 earned Quality in Construction awards.

“Our project managers and materials engineers work with contractors to ensure that the public receives a high-quality product,” said Marvin Fenn, an ITD engineering manager in north Idaho.

Awards were based on asphalt samples submitted to the National Center for Asphalt Technology in Alabama and reviewed for deviations and for consistency.

“Collaborating with ITD engineers is always a positive experience,” said Brian Poe, a project manager for Poe Asphalt and Paving in Post Falls. “It is great to work with a team that wants to deliver the best projects for the traveling public.”

North Idaho officers to work across jurisdictions to combat impaired driving this holiday season

During this holiday season, Kootenai County law enforcement agencies are partnering on a new strategy to protect the traveling public and to get impaired drivers off the road.

“We’re going to take the approach this season that we haven’t taken in quite some time—or ever for that matter—to have a multiagency task force to conduct emphasis patrols focusing entirely on impaired drivers,” said Idaho State Police Captain John Kempf.

With funding from the Idaho Transportation Department to cover the costs of extra patrols, local law enforcement agencies are coordinating multijurisdictional emphasis patrols on the weekends through New Year’s Eve. Each participating agency assigns additional officers to canvas the entire county, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.

“We’ve noticed a pattern in the last several months,” Kempf said. “We’ve seen increases in drunk or drugged driving involved in not only crashes but also fatalities, and we’re working with other agencies to put on extra patrols to focus on this problem.”

Many law enforcement agencies throughout the state plan these patrols during the holidays when there are more drivers on the roads, but in Kootenai County, the patrols will be more organized than previous efforts, and hopefully, more effective.

“We’re going to have all of the officers from the different agencies that are participating use the same radio frequency,” Kempf said. “It allows them to remain focused on DUI enforcement and allow other officers to handle non-DUI calls.”

By using one radio channel for communication, officers from multiple agencies will be able to work as one team to catch impaired drivers, Kempf said.

“With this team-focused approach, we’re not going to worry about jurisdictional boundaries,” Kempf said.

Kempf said there will be extra officers from the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and the Idaho State Police patrolling for impaired drivers every weekend until the end of the year.

“If you suspect somebody of drinking and driving, dial 9-1-1. Officers will be dispatched to locate those drivers,” Kempf said. “We want everyone on the roads to be safe this holiday season, and anyone can help with that.”


Open house in Bonners Ferry Dec. 14 will explain upcoming changes to US-95

US-95 will be improved from the Kootenai River Bridge to Alderson Lane.

COEUR d’ALENE–The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) invites the public to an open house on Thursday (Dec. 14) to learn about a project to improve safety on US-95 through Bonners Ferry.

The open house will be held at Boundary County Middle School from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The open house will begin with a brief presentation on the key aspects of the project. Following the presentation, ITD staff will be available to answer any questions, project manager Ben Ward said.

“This project will improve safety for the many users of US-95 by providing improved pedestrian facilities, reducing the number of approaches to the highway, and controlling snow and water drainage better,” Ward said.

The project will be built in two phases at an estimated construction cost of $9.4 million. ITD contractors will be required to keep one lane of US-95 open in each direction during the day with the option to reduce the highway to one lane at night. Access to businesses along the highway will remain open during construction, Ward said.

The first phase of the project includes improvements to the South Hill to be constructed in 2018, and the second phase includes improvements on US-95 from Alderson Lane to Madison Street to be constructed in 2019.

The project will reduce US-95 to two lanes on the South Hill, allowing for the designation of acceleration lanes in both directions near Ash Street to make turns onto the highway easier, especially for trucks turning left to go up the hill. These acceleration lanes can also be used to reroute traffic and avoid delays in the event of stalled rigs or crashes on the South Hill, said Dan Budd, an ITD designer for the project.

The new merging point for southbound traffic will be moved north from the Madison Street intersection to the Kootenai Street intersection. A protected crosswalk will be placed just south of the Madison Street intersection to provide safer crossing for children going to the city’s swimming pool. Getting traffic into one lane before the Madison intersection will make it safer for the many pedestrians who will cross there, Budd said.

“We want drivers approaching the Madison intersection to be looking forward at the crosswalk, not looking back over their shoulder while trying to merge into one lane,” Budd said. “Pedestrians, often children, use that intersection to cross to the local swimming pool.”

The new crosswalk will be equipped with pedestrian-activated, high-intensity lights to bring drivers’ attention to the crosswalk and allow pedestrians to cross safely, Budd said.

As part of the first phase of the project, ITD contractors also will upgrade the streetlights on the South Hill to be more efficient, and the existing sidewalk will be expanded from 5 feet to 8 feet, Budd said.

Highway improvements from Alderson Lane to Madison Street include the creation of a consistent three-lane highway with wider shoulders to accommodate bicyclists and 6-foot sidewalks separated from the highway by a grass buffer, all illuminated by new lights.

The project will also remove the signal at Alderson Lane. ITD initially considered upgrading the signal due to its age, but further analysis determined that the signal was not warranted by the volume of vehicles using it, even during peak summer traffic, Ward said.

Those unable to attend the open house may view details by visiting the project website at http://arcg.is/P584v. The website also features general responses to comments received from three meetings held by ITD during the design process. Any additional questions about the project should be addressed to Ben Ward at (208) 772-1218 or Ben.Ward@itd.idaho.gov.