Transport of oversized windmill loads through North Idaho to begin Thursday night

Picture of a large windmill blade at the Lewiston Port

Update as of 10/16: the first loads are now expected to leave Saturday night.

Approximately 300 oversized loads will travel from the Port of Lewiston to Alberta, Canada over the next two months, with the first load scheduled to leave Thursday night (Oct. 15) at 7 p.m. NexGen Transportation is in the process of delivering the blades and tower sections for 43 windmills, with the largest loads measuring up to 270 feet long and weighing 240,000 pounds.

The loads will depart from the Port of Lewiston every night, except Friday and Saturday nights, to travel north on US-95 to Coeur d’Alene before heading east on I-90 into Montana. Weather conditions may impact the schedule.

Pilot cars will escort the loads on the two-day journey, with flaggers in place to close the following intersections: Idaho Highway 128 and US-12/US-95 (Lewiston), US-95 and Lincoln Avenue/Walnut Way (Coeur d’Alene) and the I-90 and US-95 interchange (Coeur d’Alene).

Drivers can expect delays as the loads move through these intersections. Seven loads are expected each night.

Drilling complete at US-95 slide south of Riggins

october 27

Drilling on the face of the slope is now complete. Next crews will start installing mesh at the top of the slope and removing the rock berm on the south side. Impacts to traffic – delays up to 15 minutes – are expected to remain the same until early November.
Remaining work includes installing cable netting on the face of the slope, installing fencing at the bottom of the slope, repairing the surface of US-95 and making minor changes to Old Pollock Road. Work is expected to wrap up in mid-November.

september 23

View footage from the final major blast in long-term repairs.

september 22

Both US-95 and Old Pollock Road are expected to close today at 11 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. MT to allow crews to blast 1,000 cubic yards of unstable rock from the slope adjacent to the active slide at milepost 188 south of Riggins.

The complete closure is expected to last about 30 minutes. After the blast, traffic will be allowed to travel through the area on the US-95 temporary road around the base of the slide or Old Pollock Road.

“Although this particular slope is not currently sliding, it has the potential to,” Materials Engineer Janet Zarate said. “We plan to proactively address it now while we have the right equipment and people in the area.”

This is the second major and final blast to remove material from the slope and will be much smaller than the first.

After blasting is complete, drivers can anticipate continued 20-minute delays for several weeks while geotechnical experts finish dislodging loose material.

“During those short-duration closures, the temporary signals will turn red,” Zarate said. “It’s important to stop so you’re not driving below boulders as they are being pushed off the rock face.”

Next steps for slope stabilization include reinforcing the remaining slope with bolts and wire fencing. Repairs are expected to take until mid-November to complete.

september 10

Photo of the slope above MP 188 on US-95 after blast
Photo of the slope above MP 188 on US-95 after blast

A small blast is planned for 15 minutes between 3 – 4 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. MT to remove additional leftover rock from the first blast. Both Old Pollock Road and the detour around the base of the slide will be closed.

Drivers should expect continued follow-up blasts as geotechnical experts scale and reassess the slope.

september 8

Photo of scalers on the US-95 slope south of Riggins
Photo of scalers on the US-95 slope south of Riggins

A blast at 3 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. MT today at the slide near Riggins will close Old Pollock Road and the detour around the base for 15 minutes. Check 511 for updates. These rocks made it past the first blast and days of scaling (see video), but we’ll get it taken care of today.

SEPTEMBER 2

Photo of the slope at MP 188 on US-95 after the Aug. 28 blast
DCIM100MEDIADJI_0017.JPG

Traffic at the US-95 slide south of Riggins is planned to shift from the detour on Old Pollock Road to the temporary road around the base of the slide tonight, thanks to quick progress on cleanup efforts since the blast last week. The route could reopen as early as 5 p.m. PT / 6 p.m. MT, but drivers should check 511.idaho.gov for updates as the deadline approaches.

“We’re able to open this up much sooner than anticipated,” said Janet Zarate, co-manager of the repairs and materials engineer for the Idaho Transportation Department. “Both our contractors and our own employees have worked long hours over the last several days, putting us ahead of schedule.”

In addition to clearing the roadway, crews finished rebuilding protective berms to shield traffic from any additional rock fall.

Traffic conditions will be similar as before the blast, but drivers should plan for additional 30-minute delays as scalers on the slope dislodge loose material. Scaling will continue throughout the week but minimal traffic impacts are anticipated over the holiday weekend.

“In just a few short months, we will have built something that will protect drivers below for decades,” Zarate said. “The inconvenience of delays in the coming days will help keep travelers safe and prevent long-term delays in the future.”

Last Friday, both US-95 and Old Pollock Road were closed for half an hour while crews detonated 6,000 pounds of explosives, removing 14,000 cubic yards of unstable material from the slope.

A second blast in the coming weeks will address stability concerns for the adjacent slope to the south.

For progress updates, drivers should visit itd.idaho.gov/us95rigginsslide and follow ITD on Facebook and Twitter.

August 28 evening update

Still of the blast on US-95 MP 188 south of Riggins
Still of the blast on US-95 MP 188 south of Riggins
Blasting to remove unstable material from the US-95 slide south of Riggins earlier this evening was successful. An estimated 14,000 cubic yards of unstable rock from the slope at milepost 188 were removed, which is the same amount of rock that has already fallen to the road since the first slide on July 3.
Traffic can now run on Old Pollock Road. Cleanup efforts on the detour around the base of the slide are expected to take up to one week, after which traffic will be shifted back on to US-95.

august 28 afternoon update

The one-hour closure is now expected to start at 4:30 p.m. PT / 5:30 p.m. MT at the earliest. For the most up-to-date information, check 511 as conditions may change.

AUGUST 28 morning update

Both US-95 and Old Pollock Road are expected to close tonight from 3 to 4 p.m. PT / 4 to 5 p.m. MT to allow crews to blast an estimated 14,000 cubic yards of unstable rock from the slope at milepost 188. Just as much rock has already fallen to the road since the first slide on July 3.

After the blast, traffic will remain on Old Pollock Road until the slope is determined to be stable and crews can clear the detour around the base of the slide. Cleanup efforts are expected to take up to one week.

This is the first of two blasts planned to correct the slope failure. The second blast has not yet been scheduled.

After blasting, long-term repairs will include reinforcing the remaining slope with bolts and wire fencing.

August 25 update

Photo of drilling equipment preparing the slope above milepost 188 on US-95 for blasting

Both US-95 and Old Pollock Road are expected to close Friday evening (Aug. 28) to allow crews to blast an estimated 14,000 cubic yards of unstable rock from the slope, the same amount that has fallen to the road since the first slide at milepost 188 on July 3.

Traffic will be shifted onto Old Pollock Road Thursday night in anticipation of the blast. The complete closure on Friday is expected to last just one hour, and after the blast, traffic will be allowed to travel through the area on Old Pollock Road.

“Our priority is to ensure that the residual rock is stable after the blast and to clear the temporary road around the base of the slide,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “That could take up to a week, during which we will need to keep traffic on Old Pollock Road.”

This blast is the first of two planned to remove material from the slope. An update will be sent later this week with the timing of the blast on Friday evening. The second blast has not yet been scheduled.

Long-term repairs also include reinforcing the remaining slope with bolts and wire fencing. They are expected to take until late October to complete.

Drivers should download the 511 app to check for the latest conditions. For progress updates, drivers should visit itd.idaho.gov/us95rigginsslide and follow ITD on Facebook and Twitter.

August 20 update

A semi passes the temporary signal at the US-95 slide south of Riggins
A semi passes the temporary signal at the US-95 slide south of Riggins

Drilling will begin today at the US-95 slide south of Riggins. This is part of the long-term repairs, which will involve controlled blasting and reinforcing the rock face, that are planned for completion in late October. The unstable slope has affected traffic on the highway since it first slid on July 3 and then again on July 10.

Drilling is the first step in the process of safely removing material from the slope. At the same time, crews will rebuild the rock berm to catch debris during blasting and shield traffic from unexpected rock fall.

“Once those two steps are completed, then we can proceed to blasting,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “Drivers won’t be affected until we blast, which is not scheduled until early September.”

An estimated 14,000 cubic yards will be removed by dynamite in one blast, during which there will be no access through the area on the detour around the base of the slide or on Old Pollock Road. More information will be released when a final date is set.  

After blasting, crews will clear the detour around the base of the slide. Geotechnical experts will finish dislodging any loose material before using steel bolts to secure the remaining rock in place. Wire fencing will be positioned to cover the surfaces between bolts, and drains will also be installed.

“Reinforcing the slope with bolts and fencing will be the most time-consuming task but will not impact traffic,” Hopkins said.

Once work on the rock face is complete, contractors will dismantle the berm, repair US-95 and remove the detour around the base of the slide.

“Over the next two months, drivers should expect intermittent closures on US-95 or Old Pollock Road,” Hopkins said. “We will alternate between the two routes to accommodate traffic, with a complete closure of both only planned for the day we blast.”

Repairs are expected to cost $3 million and will be completed by Scarsella Brothers, Inc. out of Seattle.

August 4 update

Traffic runs on a temporary road around the debris field on US-95
Traffic runs on a temporary road around the debris field on US-95

Starting tonight, the Idaho Transportation Department will open US-95 at the slide area south of Riggins for nighttime travel. Moving forward, the temporary road around the base of the highway will be open 24/7 unless closures are required for safety concerns or future repairs.

“We have worked with our geotechnical experts to establish a monitoring and lighting system that allows us to continually observe and survey the slope,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “Now that we can do it safely outside of daylight hours, opening up for nighttime travel will better serve our customers who need to make deliveries at night.”

Flaggers will be on site tonight to direct two lanes of traffic through the work area. After tonight, temporary signals will replace the flaggers. The signals will be controlled by a spotter who will observe the slope and coordinate with surveyors on site.

To preserve the route for future use as a detour, Old Pollock Road will continue to be posted for local traffic only.

“This slide has proven to be a complicated issue, and we would like to thank everyone for their patience as we work to resolve it in a safe manner,” Hopkins said.

The temporary road around the base of the slide has been open for daytime travel since July 27.

Plans for long-term repairs are still being designed. They are not expected to be completed this week. Another update will be sent once a contractor has been hired.

july 30 update

ITD toured the site with prospective contractors earlier this week to answer questions prior to putting the design plans for long-term mitigation out to bid.

Based on feedback from the contracting community, additional details are being added to the plans. The contract will likely not be awarded until next week or after.

july 27 update

The temporary gravel road around the base of the slide opened to two lanes today. Flaggers are on site to help traffic in the event that movement is detected on the slope.

At night, flaggers will shift from their current positions closer to the slide to maintain the closure on Old Pollock Road so it may remain viable for future use as a detour.

july 26 update

Tomorrow morning (July 27), the Idaho Transportation Department will open US-95 at milepost 188. Drivers will be able to navigate through the area on a temporary gravel road that was built at the base of the slide.

This temporary roadway was previously used for a short period of time before additional movement of the slope was discovered, which ultimately resulted in further rockfall on the highway.

“Our focus has always been centered on reopening the highway as soon as possible,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “The nature of this situation however, requires us to remain diligent and only make decisions when we can ensure the safety of both motorists and our workers.”

Last week, crews worked to blast and remove massive boulders that had fallen on the temporary roadway. Additional maintenance operations occurred over the weekend in order for traffic to begin utilizing the road Monday morning.

The temporary road will be open to one lane traffic during daytime hours only (5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PDT / 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. MDT). Drivers must adhere to flaggers and pilot cars that will be present to direct them through the area.

“We have been monitoring the slope since the initial slide occurred on July 3, and we will continue monitoring the slope while traffic is moving around the base of the slide,” stated Hopkins. “Safe monitoring can only occur during daylight so the hours of travel will be reduced to coincide with such.”

Over the coming weeks, ITD will continue to remove rocks from US-95 and mitigate the stability of the slope.

“We appreciate how cooperative and patient the public has been throughout this process,” Hopkins said. “Our crews have been, and will continue, to work as quickly as possible to safely restore the highway and driving conditions back to normal.”

july 24 update

Workers walk through the shoofly on US-95 at milepost 188 after the biggest boulders were blasted
Workers walk through the shoofly on US-95 at milepost 188 after the biggest boulders were blasted

Over the last week crews were able to drill and blast some of the biggest boulders that have kept the temporary road around the base of the slide on US-95 south of Riggins closed since July 10. With these boulders now much smaller, the route may reopen as early as Monday, July 27.

“Now that the boulders are of manageable size, we will focus on clearing the detour around the base of the slide while continuing to monitor the stability of the slope,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “We are still determining what the highway will look like when it reopens, but drivers should be prepared for flaggers and reduced lanes and hours.”

The final repairs to mitigate the slope failure are scheduled to be awarded on July 30. Once awarded, the contractor will be asked to mobilize within 48 hours.

Old Pollock Road will continue to be monitored and maintained for possible use as a detour in the future.

july 17 update

Photo from the top of the failing slope on US-95 at milepost 188 looking at massive boulders
Photo from the top of the failing slope on US-95 at milepost 188 looking at massive boulders

On Monday crews are expected to start removing rocks at the base of the slide on US-95 south of Riggins. The temporary road built around the base has been blocked by massive boulders since the slope failed for a second time last week but may be open in time for next weekend.

“Our entire timeline is dependent on survey results,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “If we observe movement, that will limit our ability to have crews working underneath the slope and delay the eventual reopening of the temporary road.”

No significant movement has been detected since late last week, allowing scalers to finish dislodging loose material on the rock face this week.

Removing debris and rebuilding the rock berm to shield the temporary road is planned to take at least all week.

“Some of these boulders are 40 feet wide,” Hopkins said. “We’ll need to drill and blast them into small enough pieces to be removed.”

In the meantime, drivers will continue to be detoured to Old Pollock Road, which is open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PDT / 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. MDT.

To ensure the long-term stability of the slope, ITD has hired WHPacific to design a mitigation plan that will include controlled blasting. Those plans are scheduled to be advertised in a few weeks to allow for construction in late summer. At this time the duration and costs of removal of the rock face are unknown.

july 14 afternoon update

The US-95 slide detour route on Old Pollock Road will open an hour earlier starting tomorrow morning (July 15). Traffic will be allowed on the route from 5 am – 8 pm PDT (6 am – 9 pm MDT). This change in time is to better accommodate local traffic.

All motorists utilizing the route must still adhere to flaggers and pilot cars that are there to safely and efficiently direct traffic through the area.

July 14 morning UPDATE

The Idaho Transportation Department will continue to monitor the US-95 slide south of Riggins (milepost 188) to determine if the area is sufficiently stable for crews to begin working on rock removal.

“The additional rock fall that occurred last Thursday invalidated the survey points we were monitoring,” ITD Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “We have to once again establish a baseline and carefully monitor the slope over a number of days to ensure that no significant movement is continuing to occur that would cause concern.”

A scaling crew was onsite yesterday to evaluate damage resulting from the recent rock fall and assess how the area can be best secured so that crews can begin removing fallen rock off the highway. Scalers also worked to knock off loose rocks and boulders on the slope.

Scaling activities, along with continued monitoring, are expected to carry on throughout the remainder of this week.

“We need to give the slope time to stabilize,” Hopkins explained. “When we are able to safely bring more crews into the area, we will begin rock removal, starting first on the temporary road built at the base of the slide.”

Some of the fallen rock is up to 40 feet in diameter. Various methods will be required to break the massive boulders into pieces and remove them with heavy equipment.

“Blasting in some form will likely occur,” stated Hopkins. “This will be done in a controlled manner and we will continue to carefully monitor the above slope while any work on the ground is underway.”

US-95 will remain closed until it is determined that the slope is stable and crews are safely able to enter the area and remove fallen rock.

Old Pollock Road will continue to serve as a detour around the slide during daytime hours – 6 am – 8 pm PDT (7 am – 9 pm MDT). The detour will remain closed at night as crews perform maintenance operations on the roadway, which typically does not see this amount of traffic.

Hopkins said the goal is to reopen the temporary roadway on US-95 as soon as it’s feasible to do so.

“We have to continue to put the safety of our workers and the traveling public first in every decision we make. Our team is working hourly and diligently on this ever changing situation and we appreciate the patience and cooperation of area residence and motorists as we work to restore the highway.”

July 10 UPDATE

Massive boulders came down last night at the U.S. Highway 95 slide south of Riggins (milepost 188). The slope above the route remains too unstable to allow for traffic or rock removal crews in the area.

“The highway will remain closed until we are able to evaluate this new development and determine the best option to safely stabilize the slope.” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said.

The department had already built a temporary gravel road to detour traffic around the base of the slide, but continued significant movement on the slope closed it on July 8.

“The extensive rock fall that occurred last night confirmed that we had made the right decision to completely close that portion of US-95 to traffic,” Hopkins said.

Early next week, crews will again begin scaling the slope and surveying the area.

“Currently there are a lot of overhanging boulders and ledges,” stated Hopkins. “We don’t yet know how stable these are and until we are able to further evaluate the area, crews will not be able to engage in rock removal operations.”

Old Pollock Road will continue to serve as a detour around the slide during daytime hours – 6 am – 8 pm PDT (7 am – 9 pm MDT). The detour will remain closed at night in order for crews to perform maintenance operations on the roadway, which typically does not see this amount of traffic.

“It’s very important that we maintain the integrity of Old Pollock Road so that it can continue to serve as a viable option for detouring traffic during this time,” Hopkins said.

The slope and area around the slide is considered extremely hazardous. ITD is asking citizens to stay away from the area for their safety. The department is also asking drivers choosing to use the detour, to ensure that they drive attentively in order to keep traffic flowing.

“The proven unpredictability of this slide requires that we remain flexible,” Hopkins said. “While our goal is to safely reopen the highway as soon as possible, we are very thankful that no one has been injured and will focus our efforts to ensure that it remains that way.”

Updates will be provided on the status of the slide as they are made available. At present, there is no estimated time for reopening of the highway.

July 8 evening update

The recently reopened detour around the US-95 closure south of Riggins due to a July 3 rockslide will not open tomorrow following discovery of significant movement on the slope. This closure is anticipated to last at least two days.

“Between Monday and today, one of our survey targets moved nearly two inches,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “That kind of activity may not sound like much, but in terms of geological movement it is alarming.”

The continued closure at US-95 will allow geotechnical experts to perform intensive scaling activities to dislodge the rock and reassess site conditions.

During the closure, Old Pollock Road will serve as a detour for both passenger and commercial traffic.

“This is a one-lane gravel road that is nearly four miles long,” Hopkins said. “Even with this open, getting through the area could take up to three hours.”

Repairs to Old Pollock Road were completed earlier tonight. Flaggers will be on scene tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. PDT / 7 a.m. MDT to direct alternating traffic.

“Slides are unpredictable, and this one keeps proving that,” Hopkins said. “For the safety of drivers and our workers, we have to close it. Until this problem is solved, we recommend that drivers check 511 every time they travel on US-95.”

July 8 morning update

Operators weigh down protective containers near the temporary road around the US-95 MP 188 slide
Operators weigh down protective containers near the temporary road around the US-95 MP 188 slide

U.S. Highway 95 will open to one lane of traffic between Pollock and Riggins this morning by 10 a.m. PDT/ 11 a.m. MDT and stay open until 8 p.m. PDT/ 9 p.m. MDT for the first time since the July 3 rockslide closed it at milepost 188.

Drivers will pass around the slide on a temporary gravel road. They should expect lengthy delays as only a limited number of vehicles will be allowed to pass underneath the slope at one time. Scaling activity above will also require periodic 20-minute closures over the next couple of days.

“We have built a rock berm and placed large container boxes to shield traffic from any unforeseen rockfall,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “A spotter and a surveyor will watch the hillside and be ready to have flaggers close the highway in the unlikely event it becomes unstable.” 

Starting Thursday, ITD plans to open the highway from 6 a.m. PDT /7 a.m. MDT to 8 p.m. PDT/ 9 p.m. MDT each day. Approximately 30 minutes before the highway is closed each night, staff at barricades in Riggins and New Meadows will turn traffic away.

Crews will continue breaking down rocks and pushing them up against the existing berm to make it taller and provide more room for any further debris.

Download a photo of operators filling the container boxes with rocks last week.

Improvements to Old Pollock Road will be completed later today, serving as another one-lane gravel option for local commuters only but not commercial traffic.

“For the time being, motorists should plan for congestion and expect the highway to be closed at night when we can’t monitor the slope,” Hopkins said. “We expect to keep flagging and monitoring for several weeks until we identify a long-term solution.”

Another update will be released when the long-term solution is identified next week.

July 7 update

Rock scalers dislodge loose material on the milepost 188 slide
Rock scalers dislodge loose material on the milepost 188 slide

The Idaho Transportation Department plans to open US-95 to traffic between Pollock and Riggins tomorrow, Wednesday (July 8) following the evaluation of geotechnical experts yesterday and positive results from continued monitoring. The highway will only open during the day to allow observation of the slope.

“Yesterday geotechnical professionals measured the slope to identify short-term options to get the highway safely open,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “Today rock scalers will keep dislodging any loose material.”

Crews have closed Old Pollock Road to add gravel and install culverts to help the county repair it for local and commuter traffic. Work is expected to take up to two days.

Recent rain could affect the stability of the slope. More details will be released tomorrow morning.

July 6 evening update

A temporary road is ready around the slide on US-95 at milepost 188.
A temporary road is ready around the slide on US-95 at milepost 188.
Old Pollock Road will be closed from 7 a.m. tomorrow until Wednesday evening as improvements are made for a future non-commercial detour around the slide. 

July 6 morning update

Results from geotechnical surveys on the slide south of Riggins showed significantly less movement on the slope yesterday (July 5), but the highway will remain closed today (July 6) to allow for more monitoring.

Outside experts are examining the slope today to identify short-term and long-term options to stabilize the area. They are also dislodging any loose material.

“By tomorrow morning, we will have more data to compare to the baseline conditions of the slope,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said.

Crews have finished constructing the temporary road around the slide at milepost 188 and have placed barriers to protect future traffic from rockfall.

“When survey results and on-slope evaluations prove that the slide is stable, we will look to open the highway for short periods of time,” Hopkins said. “In the meantime, we are evaluating the condition of Old Pollock Road to see how we may be able to help the county with a locals-only detour.”

The Idaho Transportation Department has submitted feedback to Google Maps to show that Old Pollock Road is currently not open to traffic. There is no detour around the slide.

July 5 update

U.S. Highway 95 will no longer open to traffic between Pollock and Riggins this afternoon to allow for continued monitoring of the slide at milepost 188.

“We know this is contradictory to what we had hoped to accomplish today and will cause long detours for travelers heading home,” ITD District Engineer Doral Hoff said. “However, without enough data and uncertainty about an apparent gap at the top of the hillside, we are concerned it might be active still.”

Yesterday around 4:30 p.m. crews left the site once a crack in the rock face became visible from below. They had been working on a temporary road around the slide as well as building a rock berm and placing container boxes to shield traffic once allowed to pass through.

“The very nature of slides is unpredictable,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “At this time, we’re not sure when we will be able to open the highway, but we are continuing to conduct geotechnical surveys and tomorrow will have experts on the slope to pry off any loose material and further analyze its condition.”

July 4 update

An excavator clears rock from the slide at MP 188 on US-95 near Riggins
An excavator clears rock from the slide at MP 188 on US-95 near Riggins

Depending on geotechnical survey results, US-95 between Pollock and Riggins may temporarily open tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, July 5) to allow traffic to drive around the rock slide that has closed the highway since Friday morning.

“We were fortunate that there was no further activity last night, and if repeated surveys show no more movement, we are prepared to open the highway for a short time,” ITD District Engineer Doral Hoff said. “We have surveyors on site right now to periodically gauge the stability of the slope.”

Around 9 a.m. Friday, the slope above milepost 188 crashed onto the highway, leaving a debris field approximately 120 feet long and 40 feet deep at the base. Some rocks measure 25 feet across and just as tall. Continued rockfall throughout the day kept maintenance crews from cleaning up the slide.

Equipment and operators from across the region have been called to the area. Crews are actively working to build a temporary road around the slide with a tall berm and container boxes to protect drivers in the event of more rockfall.

“Even with those protective measures in place, the biggest threat to drivers’ safety will be the stability of the slope above them,” Hoff said. “We cannot open the highway until we know it’s safe, and we won’t know without more surveys taken over time.”

Future conditions for travel are unknown at this time. Drivers should download the 511 app, follow ITD on Facebook and Twitter and pay attention to signs in the area.

Another release will be sent Sunday morning to confirm any opening of the highway.

Paving to start again next week near Blue Creek Bay on Interstate 90

Photo of contractors redoing the driving surface on the westbound bridge over Blue Creek Bay

Starting Tuesday, September 8, work to resurface the interstate from Blue Creek Bay to the bottom of the Fourth of July Pass will once again extend the existing work zone at the bridges over the bay.

Only the westbound lanes will be repaved as the eastbound lanes were finished in June.

“The pavement on this section of I-90 is in poor condition,” said Kyle Schrader, the project manager for paving. “We were able to shift some tasks to nighttime hours and get the ramps done, so this time drivers will only need to plan for a longer work zone and not ramp closures.”

The paving project is expected to last two weeks, and crews on the bridge project will be working to install temporary joints and finish the driving surface until late September.

“We know construction has impacted many travelers on their way to the river or lake, so we’d like to let everyone know that we are in the final stages of work planned for this year,” said Ryan Hawkins, the project manager for the bridge repairs.

A follow-up project to replace the temporary joints with permanent joints has not been programmed yet but is expected in the next few years.

Changes to be made to US-95 signals in CDA and Hayden tonight

Demolition work at US-95 and Canfield

As part of ongoing work to enhance safety and traffic flow on US-95 in Coeur d’Alene and Hayden, several changes to traffic signals will be made this week.

The medians at Canfield Avenue and Wilbur Avenue will be closed tonight after 7 p.m. as crews take down the Canfield Avenue signal and turn on the Wilbur Avenue signal.

“These changes will help with the flow of traffic by creating consistent spacing between signals,” Project Manager Carrie Ann Hewitt said. “Currently, the signals are spaced too closely, causing issues when traffic at one intersection backs up into the next.”

Radar detection devices at the Wilbur Avenue signal will be installed tomorrow, and the signal will be connected with others in the corridor next week.

“Until those final connections are made and drivers adjust to the new configuration, delays should be expected on this route,” Hewitt said.

The median at Canfield Avenue will remain closed for the next two weeks as curbing is constructed to prevent drivers on the side street from turning left on to the highway or crossing it. Drivers may make these movements at other signalized intersections, usually about one-quarter mile away.

Before construction ends in late September, a new signal at Miles Avenue will be installed, and turn lanes at Hanley Avenue will be removed and repaved to meet quality specifications.

“Combined with the additional turn lanes and access modifications that are also part of this project, these changes will save time for thousands of drivers who use the highway every day,” Hewitt said.

More than 1,200 cited in two-week long effort to increase seat belt use 

BOISE – The results are in and after statewide enforcement and awareness effort to buckle up, participating officers issued 1,265 citations for seat belt violations. 

In Idaho, the seat belt use rate is 85%. The mobilization efforts exist for the remaining 15% who still don’t buckle up. In the last five years, from 2015-2019, 56 percent of vehicle occupants killed in Idaho were not restrained and 1,207 unrestrained vehicle occupants were critically injured in traffic crashes. 

“Despite major advancements in vehicle protection, the most effective way to reduce serious injury or fatalities in crashes still remains the simplest task of all: wearing a seat belt,” said Highway Safety Grants Officer Josephine Middleton. 

The mobilization launched July 25 and wrapped up August 7. Typically, the Click It or Ticket campaign runs in May, but given the downturn in traffic counts this spring due to COVID-19, the Office of Highway Safety ran the mobilization effort later in the summer when more cars were on the road 

Even with the challenges of this year, many agencies found a way to make sure that Idahoans were buckled up when driving during the 100 Deadliest Days,” added Middleton. 

 

 

 

 

Commerce improved as restrictions reduced on US-95, Idaho’s main north-south highway

BOISE – Commerce within Idaho has been improved as restrictions to most legal loads have been reduced for the 538-mile stretch of US-95 within Idaho, which travels through 13 counties from the Oregon Border north to the Canadian Border. This is the result of a multi-year effort by the Idaho Transportation Board, based on information from industry leaders on the need to allow greater ease of commerce on the highway.

US-95 is the state’s primary north-south route, and was established as one of the country’s first national highways in 1926.

Recent improvements to the highway, particularly between Council and Grangeville, have resulted in a reduction of restrictions to the route. Because of those improvements, the highway will now allow up to 53-foot trailers without a permit and permitted vehicle combinations up to 115 feet in overall length, with a 6.5-foot off tracking and weight limit of up to 129,000 lbs.

“These improvements allow all of US-95 to have the same legal and permitted requirements from one section to the next, thus increasing the safety, mobility and economic opportunity for commercial vehicles specifically, and all motorists in general,” said Idaho Transportation Board Chairman Bill Moad.

Previously, permitted vehicle combinations were only allowed in loads up to 95 feet long and a 5.5-foot off track — a 21% increase in allowable length and 18% increase in allowable off-tracking — allowing more freedom in the movement or goods and services while also maintaining a safe roadway.

Off-tracking refers to the different paths that the front and rear wheels take when cornering. The rear or trailer wheels will take a shorter path around the curve, corner or turn. Thus, the driver has to compensate for this by taking the curve, corner or turn wider. So, the 6.5-foot off-track is the difference in the path of the first inside front wheel and of the last inside rear wheel as the vehicle negotiates a curve.

Westbound on-ramp at Sherman Avenue to close on Monday for three months

The eastbound bridge on I-90 over Pennsylvania Avenue has been replaced and is ready for traffic

The ramp at Sherman Avenue to head west on Interstate 90 will close on Monday, July 13 to allow crews to replace the westbound bridge over Pennsylvania Avenue. The closure is expected to be in place for three months.

“We have finished the other bridge for eastbound travelers, and now it’s time to switch,” project manager Shannon Stein said. “After looking at the angles needed to merge traffic from the Sherman on-ramp and bring them over to the other side, we decided it was safest to close it.”

Motorists wishing to access westbound I-90 will be detoured to 15th Street. The current detour for the closure of Pennsylvania Avenue that sends drivers to Elm Street to cross underneath the interstate will remain in place.

For drivers traveling on I-90, the two lanes of traffic will be shifted from the westbound lanes to the eastbound lanes and the newly finished bridge. This shift will happen in stages on Friday morning and Monday morning.

Work began in March to ensure continued safe travel by replacing both bridges, which were built in 1960. Replacement of the final bridge is planned for completion in October.

Idaho Transportation Department now taking suggestions from residents for upcoming projects

Photo of traffic using the Northwest Boulevard exit on I-90

The Idaho Transportation Department iasking for input on the justreleased draft Idaho Transportation Improvement Program (ITIP). The 2021-2027 draft ITIP is a seven-year plan of the state’s transportation improvementsand all stakeholders are encouraged to participate.  

Projects can range from large-scale interstate improvements to smaller projects like the installation of a new guardrail. In all, the draft ITIP includes projects in all 44 counties and all modes of transportation. Projects were selected based on technical data, as well as input from local officials and residents. 

A complete breakdown of the draft plan can be found at  itd.idaho.gov/funding, as well as an interactive map that allows users to learn about projects by narrowing it down to specific categories and locations.

A few of the major projects in North Idaho include:
 

  •  A study in 2021 to develop an environmental document to identify impacts for future I-90 expansion 
  •  The addition of a third westbound lane on I-90 between Atlas Road and Government Way and on the Northwest Boulevard exit in 2027
  • A study in 2021 to identify optimal locations for wildlife crossings on US-95 between Grnaite Hill and Sandpoint
  •  Several turn lanes on US-95 in 2027 at Mountain Meadows north of Naples, Kootenai Trail/Cabinet Mountain south of Bonners Ferry, West Elmira Road in Elmira and Conkling Road south of Worley
  •  Turn lanes and lighting at Idaho Highway 41 and Spirit Bend in Spirit Lake in 2027
  •  Flashing beacon at Idaho Highway 53 and Atlas Road east of Rathdrum in 2027

Comments will be taken from July 1-31 and can be e-mailed to ITDcommunication@itd.idaho.gov or mailed to:

ITIP – Comments
Attn: Aubrie Spence
P.O. Box 7129
Boise, ID  83707  

Paper copies of the ITIP will be provided upon request by contacting Aubrie at (208) 334-8119.  

All comments will be reviewed, incorporated into the ITIP where appropriate, and responses will be sent in August once the comment period has ended.

After approval by the Idaho Transportation Board in September, the ITIP will then be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency in October. 

Expansion of Idaho Highway 41 now underway between Post Falls and Rathdrum

Traffic on ID-41 near the future railroad overpass

Work is now underway on a multi-year effort to improve and expand Idaho Highway 41 from two lanes to four lanes between Post Falls and Rathdrum.

“Expansion will better serve the drivers who use this route every day, which in some sections is nearly 20,000 motorists,” Resident Engineer Ryan Hawkins said. “The existing highway will essentially become the southbound lanes of the new highway, allowing much of the work to be constructed with minimal impact.”

Over the next three years, new lanes will be added to the east of the existing lanes, along with a wide path for bicyclists and pedestrians. Outside of city limits, the lanes will be divided by a grassy median.

An overpass will be built to carry traffic safely over the railroad tracks that cross the highway just north of Hayden Avenue. The other crossing south of Hayden Avenue will be removed. View a rendering of the overpass.

Construction of the overpass will be the first step in expanding the highway, with the northbound bridge completed in spring 2021 and the southbound bridge finished in spring 2022.

Utilities will be relocated or installed this year throughout the corridor to allow for the beginning of paving next spring. For information on staging, download this fact sheet.

“Traffic will continue to run on the current lanes while two new lanes and the railroad overpass are built to the east,” Hawkins said. “Once those lanes are finished, traffic will be moved onto that section while the old section is reconstructed.”

Crews with the primary contractor Scarcella Brothers, Inc. have already started necessary demolition efforts and are now fully mobilized. Email updates will be available throughout construction by signing up at itdprojects.org/id41corridor.

These changes were designed in cooperation with the cities of Rathdrum and Post Falls, and both cities are supporting expansion with funding.

Construction costs for expansion between Prairie Avenue and Boekel Road total $35.1 million, and the other portion between Mullan Avenue and Prairie Avenue will be bid this fall. Over the next seven years, ITD is investing more than $131 million to expand ID-41 between Post Falls and Rathdrum and upgrade the interchange at Interstate 90.