Pet peeves, anonymous notes and 25 years

Sherry Mundt has a particular pet peeve. She doesn’t like trash, and she really doesn’t like seeing it next to highways.

Her 680-acre farm sits along US-95 just eight miles south of Coeur d’Alene. Situated along a major route for locals and waste management services, she has seen her fair share of waste pile up next to the road.

“I’d be driving to town or heading back home, and I’d notice trash,” Mundt said. “I’d be mentally picking it up while I drove.”

Mundt finds the litter bothersome, and she takes pride in her community. That’s why 25 years ago she became an active participant in the Adopt-A-Highway program—a branch of the Idaho Transportation Department that connects volunteers with supplies and services to reduce trash along highways.

Although Mundt tends to other sections, the one-mile stretch in front of her property is her primary focus. Twice a year she spends 30 hours removing 30-40 bags of litter from that section alone.

Robin Karsann, an Adopt-A-Highway coordinator for North Idaho, said volunteers like Mundt collect enough trash from the area to fill 20 residential garbage trucks every year.

“More than 2,000 volunteers gave nearly 5,000 hours last year,” Karsann said. “That is a significant savings and outstanding benefit to our community.”

Throughout the years, Mundt said she had her own community of cheerleaders. Motorists passing by would honk to show their support and crews with the Idaho Transportation Department would offer assistance.

Then five years ago a new form of support found its way to Mundt’s mailbox. Little notes of gratitude and gift cards signed by neighbors she had yet to meet appeared regularly after her semiannual cleaning sessions.

“I kept them because they were encouraging,” Mundt said. “I’d read them before I signed up for another couple of years. They inspired me to keep doing what I was doing.”

It was not until this last January that Mundt met those neighborhood supporters, Mike and Kathy Barnes from the Mica Flats area, at another community function.

“Turns out they would occasionally take their children out to pick up trash, too,” Mundt said. “They said they wanted their children to learn to be like me.”

Mundt, now in her early 60s, will resign from Adopt-A-Highway duties next April, but she said she does not doubt that her community will continue in her stead.

“The ongoing dedication of community members like Mundt who continue to help keep our highways clean year after year cannot be appreciated enough,” Karsann said.

For anyone who would like to adopt a stretch of highway, there are more than 100 miles still available in North Idaho. Interested volunteers may contact the Coeur d’Alene office at (208) 772-1200 or visit itd.idaho.gov/road-mtce.

Day work begins on April 9 to resurface I-90 in CDA

Daytime construction work on Interstate 90 between Northwest Boulevard and Ninth Street will begin on Monday, April 9. Construction will last until October.  

This project will resurface the interstate, increase height clearances of the bridges and improve traveler safety with new guardrail, signs and lighting.

Two lanes will remain open in each direction, but commuters can expect speed reductions and narrow lanes.

Later this season, there will be intermittent ramp closures during the day and at night as crews work on the shoulders and repave several ramps along the interstate, including those at Northwest Boulevard and Fourth Street. The surface of the westbound Centennial Bridge will also be repaired.

Crews will work at night, during the day and most Saturdays throughout the project. Ramp closures will be announced through roadside signs, 511 and a weekly e-newsletter.

This is the final year of a two-year project to resurface and reconstruct the interstate between Northwest Boulevard and Sherman Avenue. Last year, the interstate was reconstructed between Sherman Avenue and Ninth Street, and the eastbound Centennial Bridge received minor maintenance work.

Interstate Concrete and Asphalt will perform the work for $23.5 million.

To subscribe to the newsletter on construction impacts in the Coeur d’Alene area, contact Megan Sausser at Megan.Sausser@itd.idaho.gov.

Public invited to meeting on April 12 about Strong Creek Bridge replacement in North Idaho

Stone-creek-bridge

The Idaho Transportation Department will host a public meeting April 12 to share plans to replace the bridge over Strong Creek in East Hope on the business route of Idaho Highway 200.

The meeting will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Memorial Community Center at 415 Wellington Place. The public is welcome to arrive at any time to talk to project staff and provide comments.

Work to replace the bridge is scheduled for summer 2020. Construction will likely require the complete shutdown of the bridge, with traffic currently planned to detour on ID-200 around the work zone for most of construction.

Comments will be collected from April 12-26, 2018. They can be emailed to the project manager Lee Bernardi at Lee.Bernardi@ITD.idaho.gov or mailed to the office at 600 West Prairie Avenue, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815.

Those who cannot attend may learn more about the project and comment online by visiting www.itd.idaho.gov/d1, selecting projects and finding “ID-200B: Strong Creek Bridge.”

Reconstruction of the St. Joe River Bridge in St. Maries will require a lane closure soon

Construction on the west half of the St. Joe River Bridge could begin as early as Monday, April 2 after the completion of the bridge’s substructure and prompt the closure of one lane. This is the next phase of a project that began last fall to improve safety for travelers crossing the river.

Travelers can expect up to 15-minute delays while Idaho Highway 3 is reduced to one lane and one pedestrian path over the bridge. Temporary signals will direct traffic.

Once the west half of the bridge is completed in mid to late July, crews will work to complete the east half of the bridge. When crews start work on the east half of the river bridge, they will also begin work on the railroad bridge, which will be completely closed during its reconstruction.

Riverside Avenue, which runs underneath the bridge, will continue to be closed for safety reasons between First and Fourth Streets until further notice. Railroad Avenue, which intersects the highway between the two bridges, is being reconstructed. The road will be closed between ID-3 and Fourth Street until the west half of the St. Joe River Bridge is completed.

The overall project is scheduled to be finished in spring 2019 and includes designing and replacing the bridges over the St. Joe River and the St. Maries Railroad Company tracks.

Upon completion, both bridges will include one lane in each direction with a shoulder and sidewalk on each side. Work will also include reconstructing the highway to match the bridges, replacing guardrail and signs and improving the intersections of Railroad Avenue and Meadowhurst Road with the highway.

Crews will continue to work Monday through Saturday, and Sundays as needed. Residents and businesses will continue to experience occasional noise, dust and vibration during that time.

Record Steel Construction Inc. and J-U-B ENGINEERS Inc. will complete the work for $17.3 million.

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.

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.