New machine to pick up trash on I-90 this spring

New trash machine working in the median of I-90

The Idaho Transportation Department will use a new machine this spring to pick up trash along Interstate 90 from Washington to Coeur d’Alene.

“Now that the snow has melted, everyone can see the ugly truth about how much garbage has been piling up all winter,” Operations Engineer Jerry Wilson said. “This year, we have already started our cleanup efforts and will use a new machine, once conditions allow, to do it more efficiently.”

The department invested in the machine to speed up the collection process. It only takes two operators: one to drive the machine, which uses metal teeth to comb through the grass, and another to haul the trash away in a dump truck.

“To do one mile by hand, it takes five operators working together for eight hours,” Wilson said. “With the machine, we can cut that down to two people working five hours and still cover the same distance.”

The machine works well in the flat areas in the median, which Adopt-A-Highway volunteers are typically encouraged to avoid for their own safety.

“We will continue to rely on volunteers through the Adopt-A-Highway program to help get this mess cleaned up,” Wilson said. “They are just as valuable to us as this new machine, and we are inspired by the effort they make every year to keep Idaho beautiful.”

In 2021, volunteers in North Idaho picked up 4,171 bags of litter or about 72.8 tons – enough to fill 18 garbage trucks.

“There’s always a lag time between when the snow melts and the trash gets picked up, but once the median gets less muddy, and we have the dump truck ready to go, you’ll see us out there using the new equipment,” Wilson said.


Construction starts next week to replace two I-90 overpasses in Kellogg

Traffic passes underneath I-90 on Division Street in Kellogg

*Updated March 3 to show that the start date is dependent on weather. Less precipitation and warmer temperatures will be needed to begin work, and based on the current forecast, the start date will likely shift to March 14. Check 511 as we get closer to construction to confirm. 

The Idaho Transportation Department will begin replacement of the Interstate 90 overpasses at Division Street and Elizabeth Park Road next week to improve safety.

Construction is anticipated to start Monday, March 7, with traffic on I-90 restricted to one lane in each direction at all times. Work is expected to take two seasons, with each season starting in March and lasting through October. All lanes will be open during the winter between construction seasons.

The project also includes widening the eastbound on-ramp at Division Street and repaving both streets under the overpasses.

Map of two interchanges to be replaced in Kellogg
Map of two interchanges to be replaced in Kellogg

Motorists should plan for the following impacts:

Division Street:

  • Both lanes will be open under the I-90 overpass with minimal closures as needed.
  • On-street parking under the overpass will not be allowed.
  • Sidewalks will be closed under I-90 with a signed pedestrian detour.
  • Ramp work will take place in the shoulders with minimal impacts to drivers.

Elizabeth Park Road:

  • Drivers can expect one-way alternating traffic controlled by temporary traffic signals on Elizabeth Park Road under I-90.
  • Elizabeth Park Road will be closed for several nights each construction season as crews demolish each structure before building a new one. Digital message boards will provide warnings at least one week in advance of any road closures as a detour is not available and will not be posted.

The bridges date back to the 1960s. For up-to-date information on this project, please visit

Drivers will also encounter several other work zones on I-90 later this summer.

  • Four miles east of the bottom of Fourth of July Pass will be repaved, and barrier will be installed to prevent head-on crashes on the freeway. A contractor is not on board yet, but work is expected to take place between June and October with one lane in each direction closed.
  • One westbound lane will be closed at the Golconda interchange starting in April or May as the bridge is repaired. Repairs would take through September to complete.
  • Repairs to concrete barrier between Mullan and Montana are expected to start in April or May and require single-lane closures in one direction at a time.
  • The worst ramps in Shoshone County will be repaved this summer, with work starting as early as May. As ramps are resurfaced, they will be closed for about a day each. All work is scheduled to take about six weeks.
  • Paving between Wallace and Mullan is scheduled to begin in June and take until September, with traffic reduced to one lane in each direction.

Travelers should check to learn about traffic impacts before driving.

SH-3 traffic detour starts late February to prepare for spring construction

Narrow shoulders on ID-3

The Idaho Transportation Department will partially close State Highway 3 north of St. Maries to prepare for spring construction. Unless winter weather causes a delay, the closure will start on Monday, Feb. 28, and continue for two weeks.

“If the forecast changes, we’ll have to push our closure to the following week,” Project Manager Matt Heinichen said. “Drivers should pay attention to signs in the area and for exact timing.”

The plan is to close at least one lane of the highway from milepost 89.9 to milepost 92.5, with traffic detoured onto Goosehaven Road. During the closure, crews will remove vegetation along three miles of highway to make room for widening this spring.

“We may close both lanes on SH-3 and detour all traffic for up to five days in this two-week window so we can test the detour we expect to have in place for when we start the widening effort,” Heinichen said. “We want to determine if the county road will be able to support two-way traffic during construction.”

Widening is scheduled to begin in late April and take three months to complete. Closing the highway completely and using Goosehaven Road as a detour will expedite the project.

Plans call for the highway to be widened by 11 feet to the east, making room for 11-foot travel lanes and 3-foot shoulders. No additional lanes will be added. To get this extra width, a lightweight, specialized product known as geofoam will be used.

Traditionally, highways are expanded by importing embankment material and building the base outwards, but SH-3 was built on soft soils. Extra weight would collapse the soft soils and cause settlement problems for the highway, and expanding outwards would affect nearby wetlands. The geofoam will allow expansion without adding weight or requiring land to be bought.

Learn more at


Blasting to close US-95 at Granite Hill tomorrow

Winter snow in the work zone

A blast is scheduled tomorrow at 1 p.m. as part of efforts to expand US-95 over Granite Hill north of Athol. All traffic will be stopped during the blast, with delays expected to be under 30 minutes.

Blasting will make room for a new frontage road called Vintage Road to the west and will continue throughout the final season of work, with several blasts possible each month.

Starting in early March, crews will mobilize into the work zone to rebuild US-95 to four lanes over Granite Hill and finish Vintage Road. Additional lanes over Granite Hill will provide better mobility, and frontage roads will improve safety by routing drivers to improved intersections to enter US-95.

Both routes are expected to open by August, though construction is expected to last through October.

Once Vintage Road opens, Homestead Road and Williams Lane will lose direct access to US-95 and will instead use the frontage road to access the highway.

Construction in the area began last spring, with the first season of work producing Mineral Ridge, the road traffic currently travels on through the work zone and what will serve as the frontage road to the east after the project is complete.

Drivers can expect two lanes through most of construction. Frequent travelers are encouraged to sign up for email updates at

ITD issues reminder on plow safety following six incidents in two weeks

Stock photo of another vehicle hitting a plow

Stock photo shown above. 

With snow in the forecast for several regions in the state, the Idaho Transportation Department would like to remind drivers how to travel with plows on the road.

In just the last two weeks, there have been four incidents of drivers striking plows and two incidents of drivers forcing them off the road. This compares to eight plow strikes recorded last year. Most of the collisions have occurred after other drivers tried passing plows on the right.

Drivers should be aware that most ITD trucks have two plows: one on the front, and one that extends from the right side known as a wing plow. Lights alert drivers to the presence of wing plows, but during storms those lights and the wing plows can be obscured by plumes of snow.

So far this winter, plows have been struck in nearly every region of the state:

  • On Dec. 9, a plow was hit on Interstate 90 near the Rose Lake exit when a driver tried to pass on the right.
  • On Dec. 14, a plow on U.S. Highway 95 near Moscow was forced off the road to avoid hitting a vehicle that had lost control and was in the opposing lane.*
  • On Dec. 16, a plow was hit on U.S. Highway 20 near Ashton and on Interstate 84 near Twin Falls. Both incidents involved drivers trying to pass on the right. That same night a plow on US-95 near Winchester was forced off the road to avoid hitting a vehicle that had lost control and was in the opposing lane.

The latest plow strike occurred this morning on I-90 near Osburn. Another vehicle attempted to pass the plow on the right, collided with the wing and forced the plow off the road. The driver then fled the scene. The Idaho State Police are investigating the incident.

To date no one has been injured. However, plows must be checked for any damage before being put back into service, which stretches resources thin with a direct impact to driving conditions.

“This time of year drivers need to take their time and never pass a plow on the right,” said Jerry Wilson, the operations engineer for North Idaho. “Let’s all get home safely.”

Know before you go and check for road conditions before traveling. For winter driving tips, visit

*Post updated Dec. 23 to reflect that this near-collision occurred on Dec. 17 on Palouse River Drive near the Moscow shed.

“Pack the Parking Lots” this Thanksgiving weekend and plan a sober ride home

This Thanksgiving weekend, the Idaho Transportation Department’s Office of Highway Safety (OHS) and the North Idaho DUI Task Force ask drivers to “Pack the Parking Lots” and keep impaired drivers off the roads. Law enforcement agencies throughout Kootenai County are preparing for the increased number of impaired drivers the holiday season typically brings to North Idaho roadways. The North Idaho DUI Task Force will kick off its holiday DUI emphasis patrols with a “Pack the Parking Lots” event Nov. 26 – 27.

Police officers & vehiclesDuring the holiday season the parking lots of local bars and restaurants will fill up as more people are out celebrating. Law enforcement officers say unfortunately it isn’t uncommon to see those full parking lots almost empty once bars close. Through “Pack the Parking Lots,” the North Idaho DUI Task Force hopes drivers will leave their cars safely parked for the night and find a sober ride home. The goal is to see the bar parking lots as full after closing time as they were before closing.

According to OHS data, in 2020 there were 140 impaired driving related crashes in Kootenai County, killing 7 people. In an effort to encourage those in North Idaho to choose not to drive after drinking, the North Idaho DUI Task Force and OHS will provide Lyft vouchers to bars throughout Kootenai County, offering $5 off a Lyft ride. The vouchers will be valid Nov. 26 – 27 with the code SAFERIDE021.

The North Idaho DUI Task Force is made up of officers from the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, Idaho State Police, Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, Post Falls Police Department, Rathdrum Police Department, Spirit Lake Police Department, and Hayden Lake Police Department. Officers from each agency will continue to work with OHS throughout the holiday season to keep impaired drivers off our roadways.

It’s time to be “Idaho Ready” for winter driving

Ahead of the busy holiday travel season, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) encourages drivers to be “Idaho Ready” for winter driving. ITD’s annual winter safety campaign aims to help drivers prepare for challenging conditions on the state’s highways, before hitting the road.

“Idaho Ready” tips and resources will be shared weekly through ITD’s social media accounts and website Short videos, blog posts, infographics, and photos will teach drivers how to safely get around this winter. Planned topics include navigating the new Idaho 511, general winter driving tips for Idaho newcomers, how to keep vehicles ready for colder temperatures, and snowplow ride along videos to hear safety advice straight from ITD operators.

Each winter ITD’s 550 hardworking snowplow operators travel a combined 3.4 million miles clearing roads across the state. “Idaho Ready” also focuses on keeping these important employees safe. When encountering a snowplow on the road, drivers are reminded, the safest place is behind the plow—never pass a snowplow on the right.

Other quick winter travel tips:

  • Check the road conditions before traveling. Visit or download the Idaho 511 app for an easy look at weather reports, cameras, and more. Idaho 511 updates are now tweeted too! Follow @Idaho511 on Twitter.
  • Keep a winter emergency kit in your car with food/water, small shovel, warm blanket, etc.
  • When roads are wet or icy, slow down and give yourself more stopping distance. Turn off cruise control and remember, bridges and overpasses are the first to freeze when temperatures drop.
  • If you do slide, stay calm, brake very gently, and turn your wheel in the direction of the skid. Try not to overcorrect.
  • Keep your windshield completely clear of snow and ice. Fill up on windshield washer fluid, make sure your tires are in good shape, and battery is charged. Learn how to use tire chains and carry them with you.
  • Give our snowplow drivers room to work. Never pass a snowplow on the right! The safest place is behind the plow where the road is clear.
  • Let others know your travel plans, especially if you will be driving through areas with no cell service. Check in when you make it.
  • Beware of drowsy driving! Stop and rest when needed, and plan breaks on long road trips. Rest areas are mapped on Idaho 511.
  • If your holiday celebrations include alcohol, plan ahead for a sober ride home. Look out for your friends and family and help them get home safely too.
  • Buckle up, stay engaged behind the wheel, and drive for the conditions this winter.

Follow along with ITD and the Idaho Ready campaign this winter:

ITD wins trio of national transportation awards signifying industry excellence

The Idaho Transportation Department won three national awards in the AASHTO President’s Transportation Awards, announced Friday (Oct. 29) at the group’s annual meeting in San Diego. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is the national organization overseeing all the departments of transportation from each state in the country.

“Over the past 12 years, the culture has shifted at ITD to a workplace where employees are encouraged to innovate, collaborate, and make decisions as close as possible to where the work is being done,” said ITD Director Brian Ness. “Our team has embraced this philosophy. The end results are award-winning projects that improve customer service for the citizens of Idaho.”

Under Ness, ITD has won 20 AASHTO Presidents Awards, more than any other state in the nation.

ITD won awards in the following three categories this year:

  1. Environment, for Building Wildlife Sanctuaries as part of bridge projects in south-central Idaho
  2. Highways, for Pennsylvania Ave. Overpass project in Coeur d’Alene
  3. Highway Traffic Safety, for I-84 Traffic Corridor Safety and Commerce Enhancement project

Environment award

A pair of bridges constructed on US-20 in south-central Idaho replaced culverts over Willow and Rock Creek, remedied the failing multi-plate metal culverts that prohibited fish spawning and wildlife migration for decades, and restored wildlife habitats and streams for safe fish passage under the highway.  The project also addressed vehicle-wildlife collisions by building animal crossings into the design of the bridges. The Rock Creek bridge section of US-20 saw 64 vehicle-wildlife collisions over the last five years alone. Idaho Fish & Game and ITD installed game cameras to monitor the environmental benefits of the projects, and within a few months, fish were discovered swimming upstream to spawn, and multiple deer (and a moose) were seen traveling along the channels under the bridges.

Highways award (pictured at top of page)

ITD replaced two concrete bridges carrying Interstate 90 traffic over Pennsylvania Avenue in Coeur d’Alene with one bridge. To limit the duration of impacts to the traveling public, the project used Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) methods, which simplified construction and reduced the amount of on-site concrete formwork required. The bridge abutments, piers, and girders were cast off-site in nearby Spokane while work proceeded at the site. Several key changes allowed the bridge to be constructed faster and more effectively. For instance, a high-early strength concrete cut more than 60 days of cure time from the overall project. The bridge provides a great improvement for the community and drivers on the primary route through the largest metropolitan area and tourist destination in north Idaho. Additionally, the new bridge design allows up to six traffic lanes on I-90 in the future, if needed.

Highway Traffic Safety award

ITD won this award for the work on Interstate 84 through the Treasure Valley, the most heavily traveled route in the state, which sees more than 130,000 vehicles per day. The work kept travel lanes open and moving, was delivered under budget and on time and utilized a new-to-Idaho method to enhance safety in the construction corridor. That safety provision was a towing service that moved disabled vehicles off the road and out of the travel lanes to keep traffic moving and assist first responders. Law enforcement was averaging 1.5 hours per incident prior to the implementation of the Safety Service Patrol.  The service also saved hundreds of hours for the traveling public and millions of dollars for shippers.

ITD takes National Title at Snow & Ice event

Competing against the top operators from the region and the country, the four-person team from ITD won the national team title at the 2021 Western Snow & Ice Conference in Colorado on September 29.

The four maintenance men who made the trip were Brandon Steffens (representing the Southeast Idaho region), Jed Henderson (North Idaho), Stacey McCurdy (East Idaho), and Dakota Morgan (South-Central Idaho), pictured left to right, below.

“It was inspiring for me to see the enthusiasm this team of first-time participants brought to the competition; and continued with it to win the National Equipment title,” said ITD Roadeo Coordinator Kelley Dick. “They each did a great job individually, and represented ITD well. It’s about more than a skills competition, though – this just shows that we are providing top-notch service to the driving public.”

ITD’s mastery of skills translates into better service in clearing ice and snow from the highways for Idaho’s drivers.

The department was able to bring four people to the event, rather than the usual two because the pandemic kept ITD from sending anyone last year.

“I am grateful to have the opportunity,” said McCurdy, who made his first trip to the nationals after 26 district competitions.

“It’s amazing to see how well we worked as a team with all of us coming from different districts,” said Morgan.

Along with demonstrating a mastery of skills and knowledge, the event also allows participants to share best practices.

“We are very proud of our successful top ITD Equipment Roadeo leaders representing Idaho successfully this year in the Western States annual event,” said ITD’s Chief Operations Officer Dan McElhinney. “Thanks to them for their commitment to safety and skills excellence.”

Along with the national team title, there were a number of top ten finishes by the participants, adding to ITD’s history in the event.

Construction continues on US-95 near Sandpoint

Drone shot of the southern end of the Long Bridge

Efforts to improve US-95 near Sandpoint continue, with construction starting tomorrow at the intersection of Lakeshore Drive at the southern end of the Long Bridge.

Over the next six weeks crews will build both southbound and northbound acceleration lanes for traffic turning onto US-95 from Lakeshore Drive.

“The contractor will maintain one lane of traffic in each direction on the highway at all times, so impacts to drivers on US-95 are expected to be minimal,” ITD Project Manager Phil Stout said.

The southern entrance to Smokehouse Road will close for the duration of work.

Crews will also establish turn lanes with new striping on Lakeshore Drive. The existing center turn lane on US-95 will transition to a dedicated turn lane for northbound traffic turning left onto the side street.

“This will be the first phase of improvements for this intersection,” Stout said. “We are currently designing the second phase, tentatively planned for 2022, which could include median U-turns for Lakeshore Drive and/or Bottle Bay Road.”

A signal is also planned with the second phase of improvements a few miles south at the intersection of US-95 and Sagle Road.

“As it’s still in design, what is or isn’t included with the second phase could change,” Stout said. “We plan to host an open house in November once we have a better idea of what will work.”

Visit for more information, and go to for updated traffic impacts.