Limited services available at the I-90 Huetter Rest Area until further notice

Drone shot of both exits for the Huetter Rest Area between Post Falls and CDA

September 6, 2022 update

Rest area reopened today

Today services at the Huetter Rest Area were restored through a temporary cleaning contract. The department will continue to pursue a long-term cleaning contract. The status of rest areas can always be checked at 511.idaho.gov.

August 2, 2022 update

Limited services available at the I-90 Huetter Rest Area until further notice

Limited services will be available until further notice at the Huetter Rest Area on I-90 between Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene.

At the eastbound rest area commercial vehicles may stop at the Port of Entry and travelers with watercraft like kayaks and boats must stop for inspection by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

No services are available at the westbound rest area.

“Back in late June, we had to terminate our contract with the cleaning company,” Operations Engineer Ryan Hawkins said. “The restroom and grounds were not being maintained per the standards of the contract and were posing a health risk.”

The Idaho Transportation Department has hired another contractor to perform a deep clean of the facilities and will solicit a new contractor for continued, ongoing maintenance.

“In the past, we have not had many companies interested in providing this service, so we are not sure when we will be able to fully restore operations,” Hawkins said. “In the meantime, we encourage travelers to stop in Post Falls or Coeur d’Alene.”

Rest area closures and traffic impacts across the state may be found by visiting 511.idaho.gov.

Construction begins next week on the I-90/SH-41 interchange

Aerial photo of the I-90 ID-41 interchange in 2020

POST FALLS – The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is beginning work to replace and upgrade the interchange at Interstate 90 and State Highway 41 in Post Falls, with impacts to traffic beginning MondayAugust 1.

Construction will be underway until the summer of 2025. Over the next four seasons work will generally shift from I-90 to SH-41 and then to Seltice Way. To learn about the full range of improvements and how to use the future interchange, watch this video.

“The beginning of this project is a significant milestone for ITD and the surrounding area,” said Shannon Stein, ITD project manager. “Once finished, the reconstructed interchange will improve safety, increase capacity, provide better connectivity to SH-41 and position I-90 for future expansion.”

In 2022, crews will work along I-90, begin reconstructing ramps and begin building the new eastbound bridges. Motorists can expect the following impacts:

  • Two 12-foot lanes of I-90 will be open during the day. Shoulders will be reduced to 2 feet.
  • Speed limits will be lowered to 55 mph on I-90 and 25 mph on SH-41 and Seltice Way.
  • Intermittent lane restrictions will occur on I-90 at night (8 p.m. to 5 a.m.). During special events, night work will begin at 10 p.m. Initial efforts include primarily night work.
  • Live traffic impacts will be available for individuals to check at 511.idaho.gov.

Construction may be noisy at times and require nighttime lighting or additional closures or delays on roads in the project area.

“It will be important to plan extra time when traveling around the interchange. ITD will communicate regularly throughout construction with those who live, work and commute in this area,” Stein said.

The best way to stay informed is to sign up for email updates by visiting itdprojects.org/i90sh41ic or by calling 866-774-4454.

The $78 million interchange reconstruction is beginning one year earlier than expected, thanks in part to Transportation Expansion and Congestion Mitigation (TECM) funds through Governor Little’s “Leading Idaho” initiative. This deliberate investment of TECM funds allows ITD to accelerate project timelines to address rapid growth and construct critical infrastructure sooner in Post Falls.

Garwood Bridge over US-95 to open to traffic by end of July

View from the ground of workers preparing to open the overpass for US-95 at Garwood Road to traffic

Construction of the new Garwood Bridge is nearing completion, with a tentative date for the bridge to open to traffic next Friday, July 29. The overpass allows for seamless north-south travel on US-95 and a safer crossing over the railroad. Completion of the bridge represents the conclusion of a multi-year project that began in summer of 2019 to improve the safety and efficiency of the US-95 corridor.

The project began with construction of a new single-point urban interchange at the junction of US-95 and ID-53. The interchange increased efficiency and safety of traffic flow by directing traffic through a single centralized signal. This interchange opened in November 2020 and is the first of its kind in North Idaho.

As a result of the two new structures, the project was able to remove two at-grade signals along US-95, so the last signal heading north from Coeur d’Alene is now at Lancaster Road.

A temporary signal that was installed at the intersection of ID-53 and Ramsey Road to accommodate detour traffic and will be replaced by a permanent signal through a separate project next year.

ITD would like to thank drivers for their patience during construction and reminds everyone to check https://511.idaho.gov for traffic impacts from other ongoing projects before traveling.

Girl Scouts improve bluebird habitat near McArthur Lake project

Volunteer group standing at the McArthur Lake Refuge

Last month Girl Scout Troop 1806 partnered with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to install homemade birdhouses near the US-95 McArthur Lake project south of Naples.

Project Manager Carrie Ann Hewitt has consulted IDFG biologists through the design of the project, which includes realigning one mile of the highway near the lake to make the existing curves safer for drivers and to elevate the highway where it dips down to the water. Elevating US-95 will also allow wildlife to pass underneath to access the IDFG McArthur Lake Wildlife Management Area.

The project will be constructed in 2023 and 2024, with tree thinning work this year to prepare for the realignment. Hewitt is a co-leader for the troop, which had been researching the state bird—the mountain bluebird—and the troop reached out to IDFG to see about improving habitat.

“Mountain bluebird populations are struggling,” Hewitt said. “The girls found that cowbirds actually swap out eggs with the bluebirds, and the bluebirds unknowingly hatch the wrong offspring.”

The troop built birdhouses with entrances too small for the cowbirds to prevent that from happening, and IDFG suggested that they install them near McArthur Lake due to the recent thinning, along with another site near Boundary Creek.

Trop 1806 holds their homemade birdhouses for bluebirds
Trop 1806 holds their homemade birdhouses for bluebirds

Hewitt’s daughter Allison, 14, and fellow troop members camped in the area and with help from IDFG installed 18 birdhouses. This project will earn them their Silver Awards, which is one step away from the Gold Award, comparable to the Eagle Award for Scouts BSA.

Paving on I-90 near mountain passes to kick off this month

Four lanes of I-90 stretch toward the horizon near Mullan

Two resurfacing projects will begin this July on several miles of Interstate 90 near Fourth of July and Lookout passes, with the first set to start Monday.

Paving between Wallace and Mullan will start next week and is scheduled to take until September, with traffic reduced to one lane in each direction. Crews will add an 85-foot-long wall and fencing at milepost 67 to protect drivers from potential rockfall.

These improvements were added to the project after boulders fell down a steep chute onto the freeway during two separate events in June and November of 2020. The project was originally scheduled to be constructed in 2024 but was advanced to this summer with funds from Governor Brad Little’s “Leading Idaho” investment, which includes a one-time transfer from the state’s budget surplus of $126 million dedicated in 2021 by the Idaho Legislature.

The bottom of Fourth of July Pass will also undergo construction as part of a different project starting in late July. Work this year will focus on improving the driving surface four miles east of the pass, and concrete barrier will be installed in the median next spring to prevent head-on crashes. While work is underway, one lane in each direction will be closed.

For both work zones, all traffic will eventually be crossed over to run on one set of lanes and will be divided by cones rather than a median.

Other work zones on I-90 include bridge replacements in Kellogg and a range of smaller projects to address bridges, concrete barrier and ramps. Drivers should plan extra time for commuting and check 511.idaho.gov for traffic conditions and restrictions on up to seven planned work zones east of CDA this summer.

Idaho Transportation Department now taking comments for all upcoming projects

View from the trees of I-90 toward Wallace

ITD is asking for input on the just-released draft Idaho Transportation Investment Program (ITIP). The 2023-2029 ITIP is a seven-year master plan of the state’s transportation improvement projects. Everyone is encouraged to participate starting in July.

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.

Projects newly funded in North Idaho with this update include:

  • Resurfacing U.S. Highway 95 from Bonners Ferry to Three Mile Junction in 2029.
  • Resurfacing State Highway 53 from the state line to Hauser Lake Road in 2024 to keep conditions acceptable until more robust repairs and expansion in 2027.

Other changes include:

  • Resurfacing of I-90 between Osburn and Wallace was advanced four years for construction in 2023. Download a photo.
  • Widening of U.S. Highway 2 underneath a railroad overpass in Sandpoint was moved up to 2023 from 2026.
  • The project to expand U.S. Highway 95 south of Coeur d’Alene and modify access at the Lincoln Way/Walnut Avenue intersection was rescheduled for construction in 2024 rather than 2026.
  • Resurfacing State Highway 54 from State Highway 41 to U.S. Highway 95 is now funded for 2024 instead of 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: Office of Communication
P.O. Box 7129
Boise, ID  83707

Paper copies of the ITIP will be provided upon request by contacting the Idaho Transportation Department (208) 334-8119.

All comments will be reviewed, incorporated into the ITIP where appropriate, and responses will be sent in September 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.

Work on SH-200 near Trestle Creek starts in July

Evening light on SH-200 near Trestle Creek

Work will begin on State Highway 200 between Pack River and Trestle Creek after the Fourth of July holiday. Crews will replace guardrail and concrete barrier near the Pack River Bridge and apply a chipseal.

The project is expected to take six weeks to complete. Guardrail replacement may require a lane closure, and temporary signals will be used to control traffic at the bridge in late July. Traffic will be reduced to one lane when crews are on site applying the chipseal.

Chipsealing is a cost-effective way to extend the life of pavement. The process involves spraying a sticky slurry on the pavement, placing rock chips on it and compressing them into place. This creates a seal that protects the pavement from water intrusion and weathering.

Drivers should be prepared for delays up to 15 minutes and check 511.idaho.gov for impacts from this project and others.

As part of Governor Brad Little’s “Leading Idaho” initiative, the 2021 Idaho Legislature dedicated $126 million of one-time funds from Idaho’s budget surplus to transportation projects statewide. The funds were split 60/40 between ITD and local jurisdictions. This project is paid for with ITD’s portion of the funds that will accelerate projects to replace bridges, restore pavements, and improve mobility in communities across Idaho.

Paving delays expected after Fourth of July holiday for US-95 in Bonners Ferry

Construction on US-95 in Bonners Ferry

Operations within the ongoing work zone on U.S. Highway 95 in Bonners Ferry will shift shortly after the Fourth of July holiday as crews begin paving the southbound lane.

All work this season will focus on building a three-lane section featuring wider shoulders and sidewalks on both sides between Eisenhower Street and Alderson Lane. Since construction began in April, crews have been able to place base, curb, gutter, and sidewalks for the southbound lane for the expanded highway, begin work on the proposed stormwater pond, and start light installation.

During one week of paving, traffic is expected to continue to have a lane in each direction but will be periodically stopped to allow trucks to enter and exit the work zone.

Once paving in that direction is complete, crews will shift to the middle of the highway and work at night. Drivers can expect the highway to be reduced to one lane at night for about one month. Two lanes will be open during the day when crews are not working. Wide loads more than 11 feet wide will not be allowed during the day; between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. loads up to 13 feet wide will be allowed. Loads more than 13 feet wide will need to find an alternate route during this stage.

In mid-August, crews plan to resume daytime work to focus on the northbound lane. This phase of the two-year project is expected to end in October.

The city of Bonners Ferry has elected to landscape sections between the curb and the sidewalks with decorative rock, rather than grass as used in previous phases, due to the unforeseen extremely high maintenance costs. Property owners or individuals interested in “adopting” the section in front of their property and agreeing to maintain the grassy area, if constructed, should contact the city at (208) 267-3105 by the end of July. Sections that have been adopted for maintenance may be landscaped with grass rather than rock if a maintenance agreement can be signed.

Construction from 2018 to 2020 built similar improvements from the Kootenai River Bridge to Alderson Lane. Learn more about this project at itdprojects.org/us95bonnersferry.

New study taking broader look at Huetter Bypass, traffic flow in CDA area

Development encroaches on Huetter Road and surrounding farmland

A new study is now underway to take a broader look at the Huetter Bypass and traffic flow in the Coeur d’Alene metro area.

“With the rapid growth in the area causing a huge increase in traffic, our existing routes are experiencing low levels of service, and drivers don’t have quick ways to get around,” said Joey Sprague, who will manage the study for the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD). “With this study we’ll look at the way the local and state routes in the area work as a system, and that starts by evaluating the work that’s already been done so that we can chart a path forward.”

The first phase of the study will review work previously done by the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization on the idea to expand Huetter Road to serve as another north-south freeway connecting I-90 and U.S. Highway 95 north of Hayden.

The study is expected to encompass a larger area between I-90, US-95, State Highway 53 and State Highway 41 to identify the pain points and how to address them given growth in the area. Solutions may include a range of options, like modifying existing routes or building new ones.

“Right now it’s about understanding regional traffic and how it interplays with the original Huetter corridor study, especially since some studies are dated,” Sprague said. “For this first phase of the study, we’re just gathering data. In future phases of the study, we’ll let the data point to options including and beyond the bypass, and once we have vetted some of those ideas, we’ll ask the public to weigh in.”

ITD officially took over planning for the bypass in October and is managing the latest study being conducted by HDR, Inc.

“It took more time than expected to determine the scope of the study and hire a company to do the work, but the study will now officially kick off this month,” Sprague said. “We expect to have more information available on it later this summer.”

US-95 project in North Idaho named regional winner in America’s Transportation Awards

A project on U.S. Highway 95 in North Idaho was recently named the western regional winner of the America’s Transportation Awards announced Tuesday (June 7). Sponsored by AASHTO, AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the America’s Transportation Awards competition was created to showcase tremendous projects.

Work from 2019 through 2021 addressed skyrocketing growth in Coeur d’Alene and Hayden by adjusting signal spacing as well as access and capacity at intersections. Several intersections on US-95 lacked basic turn lanes to separate turning traffic from through traffic. To maximize mobility at these intersections – some of which were seeing 50,000 vehicles a day, nearly rivaling traffic counts on the interstate—ITD added eight turn lanes to six intersections.

“Adjusting the signals so that they were spaced one-half mile apart allows us to better manage traffic with what we already had and without building costly features like bypasses or interchanges,” Project Manager Carrie Ann Hewitt said. “Once we update the signal technology this fall, we expect to see even more seconds saving traveling through the corridor. Seconds may not sound like much, but throughout the corridor they add up.”

Other improvements included rebuilding the shared-use path to the east of the highway and placing noise walls near Carriage Court and Hayden Pines.

This project was also awarded the Excellence in Construction Partnering Award from the Idaho Transportation Department and Associated General Contractors of Idaho in December 2021. The high-priority project united many stakeholders in the area, bringing together the cities of Coeur d’Alene and Hayden, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the state in a shared goal of optimizing the congested US-95 corridor in the heart of the City of Coeur d’Alene and the City of Hayden. Changes were partially funded by a $5.1 million federal grant with match money from ITD and both cities.

As a regional winner, the project will be considered for inclusion into the competition’s “Top 12,” which will be announced Sept. 7. These 12 projects compete for two top prizes — the Grand Prize, chosen by an independent panel of judges, and the People’s Choice Award, determined by the public through online voting. Both awards carry a $10,000 cash prize to support a transportation-related scholarship or charitable cause. The winning project will be announced at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Orlando this October.