Passing lane construction on US-95 to shut down soon

Partly finished highway project on US-95 with snow on the mountains

After the next two weeks, drivers will no longer be slowed by construction to build a passing lane on U.S. Highway 95 between Culdesac and Winchester as the project shuts down for winter.

The original schedule included the opening of a new passing lane for southbound drivers in November, but challenges with environmental resources has delayed completion.

A few months into construction the contractor discovered important sensitive resources within the project limits and stopped all work on that portion of the project.

The Idaho Transportation Department works with the Nez Perce Tribe and other entities on certain projects to avoid, minimize or mitigate impacts to these sensitive resources. On some projects with potential cultural resources, the department hires resource monitors to observe construction activities.

During construction, monitors identified sensitive resources and stopped work in that area until further investigation could be completed, and mitigation could be approved. At this time, the department is still working with the Tribe to finish the investigation, so construction in the area is not yet allowed to proceed.

Then in late August, while the contractor was building a retaining wall near Lapwai Creek, some steelhead trout were stranded and subsequently died. Steelhead trout in the region are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Construction plans were approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the project was approved for some fish being harmed or killed, though to a lesser extent.

“After the incident this year, we partnered with the Tribe and the NMFS to revise the plan for the remainder of construction. We will also discuss the remainder of work so that the fish are better protected when we resume work,” Resident Engineer Curtis Arnzen said.

Arnzen believes collaboration on this project will improve construction practices for future projects as well.

“Given the environmental challenges of the project, we do not know exactly when construction will begin next year, but we hope to start next July, which is a good time of year for in-water work in Lapwai Creek relating to the protection of threatened fish,” Arnzen said.

This project 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.

Rock scaling begins next week on White Bird Grade

Railroad containers set in place to shield traffic

Sept. 12 update:

Rock scaling will begin Tuesday, September 20, at the top of White Bird Grade to stabilize the slope above U.S. Highway 95. Work over the next several weeks will intermittently affect the highway.

Scaling involves knocking down loose debris proactively, with rocks falling from the hillside down to the road. Specialized equipment will excavate rock at the top and flatten the slope.

“At least for the first day, we’ll have flaggers there to stop all traffic for 20 minutes at a time while workers are scaling,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said.

Work is scheduled Monday through Saturday, with construction starting each day at daybreak.

“As work continues, we may allow traffic to flow without being stopped during work if it is safe to do so,” Hopkins said.

Metal containers that have been shielding drivers since the rockslide in May at this location will be shifted back on to the highway. The passing lanes will be closed earlier, forcing drivers to merge sooner. When crews are not on site, traffic will flow freely over the hill with one lane in each direction.

Drivers are encouraged to check road conditions at

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

Transport of oversized windmill loads through North Idaho to begin next week

Image on oversized windmill load.

More than 80 oversized loads will depart the Port of Lewiston bound for Canada over the next 2.5 months, with the first load scheduled to leave next week. Richards Transportation is in the process of delivering windmill blades to Jenner, Alberta, with the largest loads measuring up to 325 feet long and weighing 137,000 pounds.

“This first load is the only one currently scheduled and will provide an opportunity to refine the transportation plans,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “After the initial run, we expect operations to increase in frequency.”

Nine loads will depart each week in groups of three from the Port of Lewiston to travel north on U.S. Highway 95 to Coeur d’Alene before heading east on Interstate 90 into Montana. Three loads are expected to leave every other day, with each individual load departing roughly 30 minutes apart.

Click here to see an oversized windmill load.

Pilot cars will escort each load on the one-night journey, with flaggers in place to close the following intersections:

  • State Highway 128 and US-12/US-95 in Lewiston
    • US-95 and Lincoln Avenue/Walnut Way in Coeur d’Alene
    • the I-90 and US-95 interchange in Coeur d’Alene.

Drivers can expect delays as the loads move through these intersections at night. The transportation company arranged for a new on-ramp to help oversized loads make the turn from northbound US-95 onto eastbound I-90 in Coeur d’Alene. This ramp will not be open for other traffic. Traffic on the interstate will be slowed down by pilot cars to allow each load to merge.

Given the length of the loads, navigating to and through Moscow will be especially slow-going and will require significant closures.

The two-lane section of US-95 between Thorn Creek and Moscow will be closed as loads travel through for an estimated 30 minutes each. Timing of the closures will vary but could start around 9 p.m. Traffic will be allowed to pass before each subsequent closure.

“That section of US-95 is windy and narrow, and the loads will not be able to make those turns without taking up part of the oncoming lane, so we are shutting it down,” Hopkins said.

Each night loads depart the port, no parking will be allowed in Moscow starting at 6 p.m. on the following streets:

  • Washington Street north of the US-95/SH-8 intersection to where southbound and northbound US-95 reconnects at the north end of Moscow.
    • Near the Main Street and A Street intersection.

While loads move through Moscow on US-95/Washington Street, traffic will be unable to pass. It could take up to an hour for each load to pass through.

“Given the extreme length of these loads and how narrow the highway section is in Moscow, the transport company will move each load at walking pace with staff on the ground to ensure that nothing next to the road is damaged,” Hopkins said.

Weather may impact the schedule. Traffic impacts will be identified on

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $3 Million in Emergency Relief for Roads and Bridges Damaged by Floods in Idaho

Lapwai Creek flooding and washing out US-95

BOISE – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced the immediate availability of $3 million in “quick release” Emergency Relief (ER) funds to help the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) repair roads and bridges damaged by recent floods.

“The emergency funding we’re announcing today will help the people of Idaho recover from these devastating floods and safely reopen their roads and bridges as quickly as possible,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Extreme moisture, runoff and flooding occurred following the heavy rains in NezPerce and Idaho counties causing significant damage, as well as creating dangerous travel conditions in the North Central and Northeast regions of the state beginning June 10, 2022. Numerous roadways in the area were obstructed from the flooding. Idaho Governor Brad Little issued a disaster declaration on June 22 to assist with response and repair efforts.

“Today’s funding represents a down payment on our federal commitment to ensuring roads and bridges in Idaho damaged by the flooding are repaired as quickly as possible,” said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “The flooding has interrupted daily life in communities in the region, and we hope that by restoring vital transportation links people can regain a sense of normalcy.”

Initial flooding closed the northbound lane of US-95 four miles south of Lapwai. Crews worked diligently to reopen two lanes with an asphalt surface as soon as possible and committed to start refocusing on more permanent repairs later this summer.

These “quick release” funds will go toward emergency repair work and operations to maintain traffic flow throughout the disaster. Damaged roads include US-95, Gifford-Reubens Road, Southwick Road and Webb Road in Nez Perce County as well as Toll/Clear Creek Road in Idaho County.

FHWA’s ER program provides funding for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. These funds are an initial installment of funds used to restore essential traffic and to limit further highway damage, which can help long-term repair work begin more quickly.

The funding announced today adds to the more than $70 million recently provided to the Montana Department of Transportation, the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Park Service for Yellowstone National Park and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service for Custer Gallatin National Forest to repair flood damage.

More information about FHWA’s ER program can be found online at

Idaho Transportation Department now taking comments for all upcoming projects

Deteriorating pavement on SH-11

ITD is asking for input on the just-released draft Idaho Transportation Investment Program (ITIP). The 2023-2029 ITIP is a seven-year master plan of the state’s transportation improvement projects. Everyone is encouraged to participate starting in July.

Projects can range from large-scale interstate improvements to smaller projects like the installation of a new guardrail. In all, the draft ITIP includes projects in all 44 counties and all modes of transportation. Projects were selected based on technical data, as well as input from local officials and residents.

A complete breakdown of the draft plan can be found at

Projects newly funded in North Central Idaho with this update include:

  • Resurfacing U.S. Highway 12 from Greer to Kamiah in 2024.
  • Extending the northbound passing lane on U.S. Highway 95 over Crooks Hill north of Viola in 2029.
  • Modifying curves and adding guardrail to US-95 from Rapid River to Riggins in 2029.

Construction originally planned for this summer on US-12 between Orofino and Greer has been combined with a 2023 project to repave State Highway 11 from the top of Greer Grade to Weippe. Both projects will be jointly advertised this fall, with some construction possible before winter.

Comments will be taken from July 1-31 and can be e-mailed to or mailed to:

ITIP – Comments
Attn: Office of Communication
P.O. Box 7129
Boise, ID  83707

Paper copies of the ITIP will be provided upon request by contacting the Idaho Transportation Department (208) 334-8119.

All comments will be reviewed, incorporated into the ITIP where appropriate, and responses will be sent in September once the comment period has ended.

After approval by the Idaho Transportation Board in September, the ITIP will then be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency in October.

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

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

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

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

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 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