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.

Construction on US-12 in north-central Idaho to start April 16

Work to construct nearly $17 million in infrastructure and safety improvements on US-12 in north-central Idaho will begin Monday, April 16. Work is scheduled to be completed in October.

Improvements include the replacement of two old bridges over Maggie and Fish creeks and the repaving of more than 50 miles of the highway between Lowell and the Idaho-Montana border. The Maggie Creek Bridge was built in 1949, and the Fish Creek Bridge in 1952.

Construction will begin first on Fish Creek Bridge on April 16, and work is expected to start on Maggie Creek Bridge by April 30. Paving work is not scheduled to start until June.

Temporary signals will facilitate alternating, one-way traffic over the bridges during construction. Travelers can expect short delays during bridgework, and once paving starts, they should expect delays of more than two hours throughout the entire corridor.

Concrete Placing Company will replace Fish Creek Bridge, and Braun-Jensen Inc. will replace Maggie Creek Bridge for a combined cost of $3.6 million. Knife River Corporation will repave the highway for $13.3 million.

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

Child Pedestrian Safety projects start in spring

BOISE – A dozen sidewalk and pathway projects benefiting child pedestrian safety will be built this year across the state beginning this spring.

There were 71 eligible project applications requesting more than $12M in funds to consider in this year’s funding cycle (there was just $2M in funding available). The maximum award is $250,000. Construction must be completed before the end of the year.

The projects are thanks to collaboration between the Idaho Transportation Department and the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council, after a legislative effort last year. They are funded with general fund surplus money approved by the Idaho Legislature during the 2017 session.

The following 12 projects were approved for funding:

Location        Amount
Ashton            $250,000
Title: Main Street sidewalk improvements
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk and lighting improvements along Main St. (ID-47) to connect with the existing pedestrian system at the high school.

Blackfoot         $171,000
Title: Ridge Crest Elementary Safety Improvements Project
Description: This project will provide a 575-foot section of sidewalk along Airport Road to extend the sidewalk from Ridgecrest Elementary to the park. Additional safety improvements include a pedestrian crossing at East Airport Road.

Burley             $191,000
Title: Highland Avenue and East 19th Street Sidewalk Connection
Description: This project will provide nearly a half-mile of new sidewalk and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant ramps that connect two schools along Highland Avenue. The schools are White Pine Intermediate and Dworshack Elementary.

Caldwell          $109,446
Title: Sacajawea Elementary School Project
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk, updated ADA curb ramps, bike lanes, and streetlights, and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon along Illinois Avenue to provide a safe route to school for children travelling to Sacajawea Elementary.

Carey               $154,640
Title: Crosswalk Signage and Pedestrian Improvement Project
Description: This project will provide new curb, gutter, and sidewalk along ID-26 and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon to provide a safe crossing for pedestrians walking across the state highway.

Driggs               $125,000
Title: South 5th Street Pathway
Description: This project will provide approximately 1,600 feet of 10-foot-wide multiuse path and ADA ramps along South 5th Street, connecting four schools to residential areas. This project extends an existing safe route to school.

Firth                  $250,000
Title: Children Pedestrian Improvements
Description: This project will provide new curb, gutter, and sidewalk along Center Street from Main St. (ID-91) to the elementary school. Additional safety improvements include a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon signal on Main St.

Idaho Falls         $240,000
Title: Iona Street, Riverside Drive and Bush Elementary Connections
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk along Iona Street and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon for safe crossings at Riverside Drive (a busy street near an interchange). A second location includes sidewalk connections to Bush Elementary.

Marsing              $35,326
Title: ID-55 Sidewalk Project
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk along ID-55, connecting the public library and downtown with the elementary, middle, and high schools.

Moscow             $250,000
Title: Third Street Corridor Improvements
Description: This project will provide about 970 feet of new sidewalk along 3rd Street, connecting two elementary schools and the high school along a safe route to school. Additional safety improvements include adding center medians, curb extensions, vertical tube delineator (high-visibility markings), and school-zone lighting.

Shelley                $135,000
Title: Locust and US-91 Improvements
Description: This project will install a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon at the intersection of ID-91 and Locust Street to provide a safe pedestrian crossing for students going to the school or library.

Teton                  $28,000
Title: Child Pedestrian Safety Project
Description: This project will install Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons at two intersections along ID-33 south of Teton Elementary to provide safe crossing for students going to and from school.

New signs at Lewiston port signal big money and time savings

POE Bypass

Drivers traveling in the Lewiston area in the last month may have noticed some new signs near the Port of Entry along US-95. The signs are the most visible indication of significant money and time savings for commercial drivers.

The new signs are part of an updated system designed to improve the mobility of freight in the area, save time on the road, safeguard taxpayer money and support economic opportunity in the region. Signs are now used to signal commercial rigs to bypass the port if the truck’s weight, height, length, safety rating and credentials are in adherence with the law.

Highway sensors verify the criteria above prior to trucks reaching the port so that flashing signs can alert drivers if they may continue or need to stop.

Recent improvements cost $750,000 but are expected to save much more.

The updated weigh-in-motion system is expected to allow up to 70 percent of commercial traffic heading out of the city and another 50 percent heading into the city to bypass the port just south of town.

Trucks that can bypass a port save an average of five minutes of time per incident and almost a half a gallon of fuel. This amounts to a savings of about $8.68 per bypass, according to an analysis of these systems by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Approximately 800 commercial trucks access the Lewiston area every day, meaning improvements at this port alone will save the trucking industry more than $900,000 this year.

Last year, commercial trucks using similar systems to bypass four Idaho ports saved the trucking industry $3.475 million.

“This technology saves our commercial drivers significant time and money, especially for local drivers who pass through the port three to four times on a normal day,” said Ron Morgan, the supervisor of the Lewiston ports.

Vehicles that bypass also benefit the state and other drivers by reducing congestion around weigh stations and enabling inspectors to focus their efforts on other carriers.

“The recent updates to the system reflect the department’s commitment to building a transportation system that supports economic opportunity and mobility in the area,” Morgan said.

From Genesee to D.C.: Clawson begins AASHTO Fellowship in spring

Talk about Culture Shock!

Idaho Transportation Department North-Central (District 2) Materials Engineer Chad Clawson, who has been with the department for 18 years, was informed Feb. 16 that he earned a 2018 Transportation Management Fellowship from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

He will leave tiny Genesee (pop. 958) and report to Washington, D.C. in April for the year-long commitment. There are about 680,000 people in the D.C. area proper, with a metro-area population of more than five million people.

“My initial reaction was disbelief, then excitement and internal panic; really, it was difficult to contain my excitement,” said Clawson. “This is going to be a great opportunity for personal and professional growth.”

In his nomination letter in November 2017, Chad was most intrigued by the exposure to transportation and infrastructure planning on a larger scale than is typically afforded him in Idaho.

He is excited to bring that big-picture thinking to his position within ITD, benefiting road users. “I look forward to synthesizing ideas — then bringing them back to our department, and showing Idaho pride to the rest of the nation.”

Clawson said the year with AASHTO will be spent working on a broad range of technical issues with design, traffic engineering, materials and operations. “There will be reauthorization of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, committee policy work, and a good deal of traveling. I will have direct involvement with topics at a different level that directly affect our safety, standards, and business practices here at ITD.”

Clawson works in planning and project delivery for ITD District 2, helping prioritize a construction budget of about $15 million annually.

Public meeting on Feb. 22 for US-95 bridgework near Potlatch

Deep Creek Bridge

An open house will be held Feb. 22 to share information on plans to improve safety on US-95 by replacing two aging bridges and by adding turn lanes at two intersections near Potlatch.

The public meeting will be held at the Scenic 6 Depot at 126 Sixth Street in Potlatch from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in an open house format. Members of the public are invited to arrive at any time to learn about the design and the project schedule. Project staff will be available to discuss the planned improvements, which are scheduled to be constructed in 2020 for an estimated $6.6 million.

Planned improvements include:

– Replacing the Deep Creek and Washington-Idaho Railroad (WIR) bridges

– Adding turn lanes at the junctions of the highway with ID-6 and with Kennedy Ford Road

The new bridge over the Washington-Idaho Railroad will be elevated to meet current height guidelines, and the supports underneath the bridge will be spaced wider to accommodate a future addition of another track. Improvements to the junction of ID-6 and US-95 near the WIR Bridge will likely prevent several crashes, as there have been 19 crashes near the intersection between 2011 and 2015.

The addition of turn lanes at the junction of US-95 and Kennedy Ford Road near the Deep Creek Bridge will also likely prevent crashes, of which there were 18 near the intersection between 2011 and 2015.

For those who have questions or comments but are unable to attend the public meeting, please email the project manager Kerby Kirkham at kerby.kirkham@itd.idaho.gov or mail comments to: US-95 Potlatch Bridges Improvement Project, Attn: Kerby Kirkham, ITD District 2, 2600 Frontage Road, Lewiston ID, 83501. Comments are due by March 9, 2018, to be considered as part of the official project record.

For more information, visit itd.idaho.gov/D2, choose “Projects” and then select US-95: Potlatch Bridges Improvement Project.