US-95 south of Lapwai reopened following repairs to flood damage

Fresh pavement on US-95 near Lapwai

June 15 update

Both lanes of U.S. Highway 95 south of Lapwai at milepost 296 are now open following repairs to damage caused by flooding earlier this week.

Floodwaters from Lapwai Creek first began eroding the northbound lane on Monday morning, and the Idaho Transportation Department reduced traffic to one lane. Repairs began later that day, with crews bringing in rock to replace what was lost and prevent further damage.

“We are happy to return US-95 to normal condition,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said.

Traffic impacts and highway conditions are available 24/7 on 511.idaho.gov.

June 14 2022 update

US-95 south of Lapwai remains partially closed due to flood damage

Lapwai Creek flooding and washing out US-95
Lapwai Creek flooding and washing out US-95

One lane of U.S. Highway 95 remains closed south of Lapwai at milepost 296 due to flood damage.

“With floodwaters receding and drier days in the forecast, we feel we are past the emergency,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “Yesterday, we rushed to get an excavator on scene to start placing large boulders against the bank to save what remained of the northbound lane of US-95. In one spot, it had washed away to the center.”

Watch a video of the flooded creek.

Watch a video of traffic moving around the damaged section.

Crews aim to finish placing rock and reopen both lanes of the highway by the end of the week.

“We are working hard to have two lanes open with an asphalt surface as soon as we can,” Hopkins said. “Then we’ll start focusing on more permanent repairs later this summer.”

Water over the roadway has also been reported on State Highway 6 between Potlatch and Deary. Before traveling drivers should check conditions on their routes at 511.idaho.gov.

June 13 2022

Flooding closes one lane of US-95 south of Lapwai, more rain in the forecast

Flooding washes away shoulder on US-95 and closes a lane
Flooding washes away shoulder on US-95 and closes a lane

Earlier this morning, the Idaho Transportation Department closed one lane of U.S. Highway 95 four miles south of Lapwai at milepost 296 due to flooding.

“Flooding of Lapwai Creek has washed away the shoulder next to the northbound lane and may be undermining the highway,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “Closing that portion of the roadway is necessary to ensure safety.”

More rain is expected today and tonight.

“Until the rain stops and the creek drops, there’s nothing we can do except monitor the flooding and close the highway if necessary,” Hopkins said. “We want to put drivers on notice that we may need to shut it down.”

Before traveling drivers should check conditions on this highway and others at 511.idaho.gov.

Preliminary work underway to expand US-95 south of Moscow

Traffic on US-95 entering Moscow from the south

Preliminary work to expand U.S. Highway 95 on a new alignment from Thorn Creek Road to Moscow began last week, with crews mobilizing into the middle segment and beginning survey.

The project will transform 6.5 miles of US-95, shifting it less than a mile to the east and expanding it from two to four lanes, enhancing safety for all users. Work this year will include earthwork and two new bridges over Eid Road.

Only some of the construction will be visible from the highway. Drivers should expect contractors’ vehicles and equipment near Zeitler Road throughout the next several months.

“This is the last two-lane section between Moscow and Lewiston,” ITD Project Manager Howard Cooley said. “The new route will tie in at Reisenauer Hill and be safer by featuring flatter grades, fewer approaches and less severe curves.”

Map of new alignment next to existing US-95
Map of new alignment next to existing US-95

US-95 is Idaho’s only north-south continuous highway, connecting travelers and commerce across the state.

Sign up for email updates at itdprojects.org/us95thorncreektomoscow.

US-95 White Bird Grade fully open after rockfall

Railroad containers set in place to shield traffic

May 11 update:

All lanes on U.S. Highway 95 are now open after the Idaho Transportation Department removed debris from a rockfall on Monday morning and placed barriers to protect drivers.

One lane had remained open immediately following the rockfall. New railroad containers have taken the place of concrete rail to offer better protection should more rocks come down.

An excavator scoops up freshly fallen rocks on US-95
An excavator scoops up freshly fallen rocks on US-95

“More rocks fell down this morning. The slope is not stable,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “This will not be a quick fix.”

The department is working to secure an emergency contract to further assess conditions and then likely use specialized equipment to scale the slope. Scaling involves knocking down loose debris proactively.

May 9 update:

Rockfall on US-95 blocks one lane on White Bird Grade
Rockfall on US-95 blocks one lane on White Bird Grade

Following persistent rain over the last week, a rockfall blocked lanes this morning on U.S. Highway 95 at the top of White Bird Grade south of Grangeville. The highway remains reduced to one lane.

Rocks ranging from 6 inches to 6 feet wide blocked the southbound lane around 10 a.m. Crews immediately responded by alternating northbound and southbound traffic and hauling away debris.

Rocks continued to fall down the slope, prompting the Idaho Transportation Department to place concrete rail to protect drivers. A spotter will watch the hillside through the night, ready to close the highway at a moment’s notice. Flaggers will control traffic through tonight and likely tomorrow night.

“This happened during blue skies,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “Just a reminder that sometimes it takes a bit for rain to seep into a slope and make it unstable.”

Experts will continue to monitor the site. The department is arranging for large railroad containers to be placed at the edge of the highway to block any future rockfall.

“We will let this settle overnight, but in the morning our goal is to continue removing debris,” Hopkins said. “Once larger barriers are in place, we’re hopeful to have one lane in each direction while we identify a long-term solution.”

The department is also working to secure an emergency contract to use specialized equipment to scale the slope, a process that involves knocking down loose debris proactively.

Drivers are encouraged to monitor road conditions at 511.idaho.gov.

Blasting begins tomorrow on US-95 south of Culdesac

Truck passes through Culdesac Canyon

Update as of May 11: The blast has been rescheduled for next week. Up to three blasts are expected in the next two weeks, with each lasting up to one hour. 

The first blast of the season is expected to close U.S. Highway 95 south of Culdesac for up to one hour starting 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Blasting this spring will make room for a new passing lane for southbound drivers. Blasts will generally be timed to avoid peak travel times and require a one-hour closure.

“We are expecting more blasting this month, but the schedule will be sporadic,” Resident Engineer Curtis Arnzen said. “Generally, there will be less blasting this year compared to previous work in the canyon.”

Construction this year will add 2.3 miles of passing lane and is part of a series of projects to add an 11-mile passing lane in Culdesac Canyon.

Crews will also replace the culvert for Rock Creek. For most of construction, drivers can expect all existing lanes to remain open. The contractor may reduce the highway to one lane at night.

Download a corridor fact sheet.

Drivers should pay attention to signs in the work zone to learn about the timing of the next blast or check 511.idaho.gov. Work is scheduled to end by early November.

 

Interchange construction at Aht’Wy Plaza delayed due to increasing costs

Rendering of the interchange planned for the east entrance of the Aht'Wy Plaza and Clearwater River Casino

After careful consideration, the Nez Perce Tribe (NPT) and the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) delayed advertising the project to build a new interchange at the east entrance of Aht’Wy Plaza for construction.

“Our goal was to start construction on the interchange this spring, but prices on materials have compelled both parties to step back and consider how to move forward,” ITD District Engineer Doral Hoff said.

Construction costs have increased with rising prices for essential materials like steel, concrete, asphalt and fuel. While the project will still make use of $19 million in grant funding, costs have escalated since the grant was announced in September of 2020.

In response to price increases, the NPT has contributed an additional $1.2 million to construction, but more recent estimates call for another $5.5 million. To cover this increase, the project was submitted for additional federal funding with recipients announced later this summer.

Advertisement will be delayed until this summer, at which point the NPT and ITD will decide how to proceed. If the project is awarded more money, construction could begin late this summer.

“The Tribe and ITD are still committed to working together to see this project through, despite any funding challenges,” NPT Transportation Manager Mary Beth Frank Clark said.

Download renderings of the design of the interchange.

This interchange project is not the only project to be delayed due to cost increases—last week the Idaho Transportation Board rejected the bid for the project to resurface eight miles of US-12 between Orofino and Greer. That project will not be advertised again until fall for construction next spring.

“Inflation and supply chain issues continue to make construction a challenging time for transportation departments across the nation,” Hoff said. “At ITD we budget increases for every project every year due to inflation, but we were not expecting such severe circumstances.”

ITD staff will continue to monitor guidance from national transportation economists and results from bid openings to avoid delaying additional projects. The department is also partnering with the Associated General Contractors of Idaho to limit the effects of inflation.

Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down

Work zones are a sign to slow down

National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 11-15

IDAHO – National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) will be observed April 11-15 with this year’s theme of “Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down.” The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is asking motorists to observe NWZAW and prepare to safely drive through work zones across Idaho.

As part of NWZAW, Idahoans are encouraged

to participate in Go Orange Day on April 13 by wearing orange as a visual reminder of work zones. Photos can be posted on social media using the hashtags #NWZAW and #GoOrange4Safety.

The awareness week ends with a moment of silence on April 15 for people killed in work zone incidents.

Statistics from the National Work Zone Safety

Information Clearinghouse demonstrate the importance of work zone safety and participating in NWZAW to spread the message that everyone has a role in getting roadway workers home safely.

  • There were 762 fatal crashes in work zones resulting in 842 deaths in 2019.
  • Of the 842 fatalities in 2019, 135 were roadway workers.
  • Most people killed in work zones were motorists, passengers, and pedestrians.

NWZAW has been observed for more than 20 years and was launched as a public awareness campaign to help everyone understand they play a role in keeping motorists and roadway workers safe.

As construction season kicks off around the state, it’s important for drivers to remember that work zones come in all shapes and sizes. They can be long or short duration and can occur anywhere, from the middle of a large city to even the most rural routes. ITD encourages all motorists to plan ahead, follow signs, and drive engaged each time they get behind the wheel.

To learn more about NWZAW, visit nwzaw.org.

Safety project to start next week near St. Maries

Narrow shoulders on ID-3

Next week work will impact Goosehaven Road near St. Maries as crews prepare to start construction of a safety project on State Highway 3.

Starting Monday, April 18, the Idaho Transportation Department will improve Goosehaven Road by adding more material and then leveling the route so it may serve as a detour for construction on SH-3 this summer.

“That week drivers should prepare for delays on Goosehaven Road but not on SH-3,” Project Manager Matt Heinichen said. “We will also apply material to minimize dust created while traffic uses the detour.”

Major construction to widen three miles of SH-3 will begin the following week and take three months to complete. Weather may affect the schedule, so drivers should pay attention to signs in the area and check 511.idaho.gov for exact timing.

“Closing the highway completely will allow us to expedite construction,” Heinichen said. “We have been working with the county to minimize impacts, and this detour is critical to getting the work done.”

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. Guardrail will be installed along the east side.

Learn more about the project at itdprojects.org/stmariesdike.

Work starts next week to replace two bridges on US-95 near Potlatch

Traffic on US-95 over Deep Creek

This year the Idaho Transportation Department will replace two bridges on U.S. Highway 95 near Potlatch, with work set to begin Monday, March 28.

Replacement of the 1947 bridge over the Washington-Idaho Railroad will begin first, followed shortly by work on the 1939 bridge over Deep Creek. As part of this project, turn lanes will also be added at the junction of US-95 and SH-6, as well as US-95 and Kennedy Ford Road.

US-95: Potlatch Bridges Project Area
Map of the project on US-95 to replace two bridges near Potlatch

“This project involves a lot of work over a short stretch of highway, so we want drivers to plan extra time to get through the work zone,” Project Manager Marvin Ramirez said.

During construction, a lane in each direction will be open to traffic but motorists will not be able to pass. Temporary signals at the bridge over the railroad and the State Highway 6 intersection will control traffic through one-lane sections.

Drivers should check 511.idaho.gov for updated traffic impacts related to this and other projects in the region.

Replacement of these bridges is expected to be complete in November. Open meetings will be held at Potlatch City Hall every Wednesday at 10 a.m. during construction.

Passing lane construction on US-95 to begin next week

Truck passes through Culdesac Canyon

Work is expected to begin Wednesday, March 9, to build the next 2.3 miles of a new passing lane for southbound drivers on US-95 between Culdesac and Winchester.

Construction will begin with tree removal and excavation east of the highway.

“Some blasting is planned to make room for the extra lane and will start once we dig down to solid rock,” Resident Engineer Curtis Arnzen said. “That will likely happen in the spring, though we don’t have a good date yet. Generally drivers should expect that all traffic could be stopped in both directions for up to 15 minutes at a time through construction.”

Once scheduled, blasts will be timed to avoid peak travel times and will typically require a one-hour closure.

Crews will also replace the culvert for Rock Creek. For most of construction, drivers can expect all existing lanes to remain open. The contractor may reduce the highway to one lane at night.

“Impacts this year will be very similar to the project we completed in 2020 that added three miles of passing lane just south of this area,” Arnzen said. “This is part of a corridor-wide plan to finish building an 11-mile passing lane in Culdesac Canyon to provide safer opportunities for drivers to pass.”

Download a corridor fact sheet.

Drivers should pay attention to signs in the work zone to learn about the timing of the next blast or check 511.idaho.gov. Construction is scheduled to end by early November.

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 511.idaho.gov 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 itdprojects.org/stmariesdike.