Highway sealcoats to take place this July throughout north-central Idaho

To extend the life of previously completed highway projects, sealcoats will be applied to several highways throughout the region starting July 9. The newly-treated surface helps preserve the pavement and provides for better vehicle traction.

When sealcoats are applied, roadways will be reduced to one lane. Motorists should anticipate short delays and watch for the presence of pilot cars.

Sealcoating is a roadway surface treatment best applied during the hot and dry months of summer when chips of aggregate will properly adhere to an oil layer deposited on the highway.

Drivers are cautioned to slow down and pay attention within the work zones, as chips placed during the sealcoating process have the potential to cause windshield damage.

Crews will begin applying sealcoats in the order below:

  • July 9: Idaho Highway 8 from Moscow to Troy (11.7 miles)
  • July 12: Idaho Highway 8 from Deary to Bovill (10.2 miles)
  • July 16: Idaho Highway 11 from Greer to the top of Greer Grade (8 miles)
  • July 20: Idaho Highway 11 from Weippe to Grangemont Road (11 miles)

All sealcoats are expected to be completed by the end of July.

Landslide repairs to ID-5 near Plummer will start next week

Repairs to Idaho Highway 5 near Plummer will begin the week of July 9.

Construction will fix damage caused by a March 2017 landslide at milepost 5.8. Crews will remove and replace unstable material below the highway. New material is designed to anchor the hillside and prevent future landslides.

Travelers can expect short delays while flaggers and signals guide traffic through the one-lane work zone. Crews will typically be on site every day but Sunday.

Construction will last two months. Check 511 for the latest traffic updates.

Paving on US-12 in north-central Idaho to start next week

Fifty miles of US-12 will be paved this summer to improve mobility and safety in the area, with work set to start on the first section during the week of July 9.

The 27-mile section between Tumble Creek and Saddle Camp Road will be resurfaced first, followed by the 23-mile section between Warm Springs and the Idaho-Montana border, which is expected to begin in August.

The highway will be reduced to one lane during both paving projects, with flaggers and pilot cars in place to guide traffic through work zones. A daytime shuttle service will be provided to safely transport bicyclists through the longer work zones. Once a schedule is finalized, it will be published on the project website and the corridor newsletter.

Paving operations are anticipated to take place at night to minimize impacts to the traveling public, but travelers should expect flagging operations and delays during the day.

During construction, travelers on US-12 between Lowell and the border should plan for delays up to two hours, as other projects to replace Fish Creek and Maggie Creek bridges are already underway. Due to the remote location and length of the work zones, travelers are also advised to fill up their gas tanks before driving through construction.

Construction for all US-12 projects will conclude this summer, bringing nearly $17 million of much-needed infrastructure and safety improvements.

To learn more and to subscribe to updates, visit itd.idaho.gov/US12. For immediate construction impacts on this and other routes, visit 511.idaho.gov.

ITD ramps up safety along Gem Trail in north-central Idaho

Continued development of an ATV trail from Elk City to Avery led to recent collaboration between multiple partners in north-central Idaho. Called the Gem Trail, this path for off-highway vehicles will stretch about 240 miles by next summer, connecting rural towns to economic development by improving available recreational opportunities.

The Clearwater Basin Collaborative (CBC) first proposed the trail to take advantage of the existing network of roads and paths in the area to revitalize rural towns. Randy Doman, a co-chair for the recreation subcommittee, said the trail has been years in the making, with progress dependent on partnerships.

“This trail is about working with locals and working across boundaries,” Doman said. “We’re setting up the backbone for future trails in the region.”

Last year, Doman approached ITD’s Craigmont maintenance foreman Lee Linabary about working with a local property owner along US-12 just east of Kooskia to build a ramp within the department’s right of way to help riders safely access two separate legs of the trail.

Before various partners came together, the two sections were divided by the highway, which ATVs are not legally allowed to ride on, at the East Kooskia Bridge.

Property owner Jim Pankey agreed to give Idaho County 50 inches of his right of way near the highway, allowing riders to cross the river and travel in a roadside ditch before using a new ramp to cross the highway and continue on the trail.

“I was happy to work together to not only bring recreational and economic opportunities to our area but to also promote safety,” Linabary said.

Linabary reused material from nearby ditching activities to build the 60-foot ramp to connect the highway to the ditch 17 feet below.

Construction took half a day but will enable future riders to avoid driving on the road, which has a speed limit of 55 mph, to continue on the trail.

Other entities, such as the Kidder-Harris Highway District, also contributed to this segment of the route by moving material.

Doman said the CBC aims to have the trail signed in accordance with U.S. Forest Service regulations so that approximately 120 miles of the trail will be open between Elk City and Pierce in the fall.

Read more about the trail here.

Highway construction through Lewiston and Moscow to start late June

Construction to repair US-12 in Lewiston and US-95 in Moscow will begin the week of June 25 and is expected to last until mid-August.

Repairs will reduce rutting and create a smoother ride for travelers on US-12 in Lewiston from the Memorial Bridge to the Rose Garden, as well as through the town of Moscow on US-95/Jackson Street.

In Lewiston, one lane in each direction will remain open, and in Moscow, crews will keep at least one lane open. Drivers will still be able to access businesses during construction.

ITD will host an open house in Moscow at the city hall on June 19 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Guests may arrive at any time to learn more about construction details.

Any members of the public with questions about the Lewiston project can contact the project manager, Marvin Ramirez, at marvin.ramirez@itd.idaho.gov or (208) 799-4229.

ID-162 near Lawyer Creek to reopen this evening

Update as of May 25 at 2:50 p.m.

ID-162 is expected to be fully opened to two lanes this evening. The precipitation last night washed away the shoulders but did not affect the integrity of the highway.

Crews will place material around the exposed guardrail to stabilize it and will add material to roadside ditches, which were eroded into steep drop-offs during the storm.

The area near the guardrail will be coned off until next week when repairs will be finished. Crews will continue to monitor the area.

Original Story (May 25 at 10 a.m.)

Crews are mobilizing to assess and fix damage to Idaho Highway 162 near Lawyer Creek (milepost 5.5) after heavy precipitation last night. At this time, the highway remains closed and there is no anticipated timeframe as to when it will reopen. Crews are working to open the road as soon as possible.

Heavy precipitation caused a tributary of Lawyer Creek to overflow and wash over the highway, depositing debris in both lanes and compromising the guardrail on a steep embankment. Although little debris remains on the highway, weight from traveling vehicles could cause the roadway further damage and make it unsafe for continued use.

Heavy rainfall is expected again tonight. ITD will post after-hours updates on 511, as well as their Facebook and Twitter accounts (@IdahoITD).

Even in the summer, severe weather events can wash debris onto roads; motorists are encouraged to be alert after heavy precipitation, especially while driving on routes along steep hills or rocky cliffs.

ITD employee reflects on the eruption of Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens ash removal

Thirty-eight years ago (May 18, 1980), Mount St. Helens erupted, spewing smoke and ash that traveled more than 300 miles before landing in the Lewiston area.

Rex Williams, who was stationed in Potlatch at the time, joined his fellow maintenance workers in an effort to clear the 1.5 inches of ash that fell on US-95, though they were not sure how to clear the roadway.

“The first day, we tried using a rubber blade to avoid creating sparks while plowing, but that didn’t work,” Williams said. “The ash got into the engine and caused it to fail within five miles. We were also kicking up a lot of dust.”

For the same reason, brooming was not an effective solution at first as it simply created a plume of grey that reduced visibility for drivers.

“Then we figured out that if we sprayed the ash with water and broomed it to the fog line, we could use spray it again and use a grader to blade it off the roadway,” Williams said. “We rented every water truck we could find from all over the Pacific Northwest.”

In the following days, workers donned masks to protect them from the abrasive ash, changed air filters in the trucks to prevent engine failure and picked up many motorists stranded along the highway after ash clogged their engines.

It would take weeks to clear ash from the highways in the Moscow-Pullman area, which Williams recalls as the region that saw the most ash in the state.

“We didn’t have handheld radios at the time, which meant our work zones had to be short so that everyone was in view of the flaggers,” Williams said. “You were lucky if you made it five miles a day.”

Historic photos around the time of the eruption will be added to ITD’s photo collection shortly. In the meantime, share your historic photos with #MountStHelens and #ITD.

Safety improvements near casino in north-central Idaho to be constructed this summer

Construction will begin the week of April 30 to improve safety at the west entrance to the Clearwater River Casino and Lodge on US-95 just south of Lewiston.

The west entrance to the casino will be closed for two weeks while a concrete island is installed. All traffic will be detoured to the east entrance.

“There have been multiple crashes at the casino’s entrances in recent years,” north-central Idaho engineering manager Doral Hoff said. “As we studied this area, we determined installing an island would improve safety by limiting left turns onto the highway.”

After construction, drivers exiting the casino from the west entrance will only be able to make right turns onto the highway. Drivers will still be able to turn right or left from the highway into the casino’s parking lot.

“We are excited to partner with the Nez Perce Tribe to address safety concerns in our area,” Hoff said. “We hope to continue to partner with the tribe on other safety improvements, such as an interchange for the casino.”

Resurfacing section of ID-62 in north-central Idaho begins April 16

ID-62 Craigmont to Nezperce

Work to resurface Idaho Highway 62 between Craigmont and Nezperce will begin Monday, April 16. Construction will last two months.

Flaggers will facilitate alternating, one-way traffic through the 11-mile construction zone. Travelers can expect reduced speeds and delays up to 15 minutes.

Knife River Corporation will complete the work for $1.7 million.

For the latest construction updates, visit 511. To learn more about other construction projects in the region, find the construction list at the district webpage.

Repairs return to ID-3 north of Kendrick after 2017 slide

Construction will start again on Monday, April 16 to finish repairs to Idaho Highway 3 between Kendrick and Deary.

Flaggers will facilitate alternating, one-way traffic while crews resurface Bear Ridge Grade just north of Kendrick and replace a culvert underneath the highway. Travelers can expect 15-minute delays.

Since the highway was damaged by a landslide last March, crews have constructed a soil nail wall, which was completed in January, to stabilize the slope beneath the highway and prevent future slides. Work over the coming months will conclude repairs.

After work is completed in July, the highway will feature fresh pavement and preventative measures to reduce any further damage from slides.

Knife River Corporation will complete the final round of repairs for a total cost of $3.3 million.