Construction on State Highway 44 Canal Crossing in Middleton Begins in Late September

BOISE – The Idaho Transportation Department will begin construction of a new canal crossing in Middleton on Idaho Highway 44 between 1st Avenue and Dewey Avenue in late September.

The existing canal crossing is deteriorated and needs to be replaced to maintain safety and mobility for commuters.

ITD will build the project in phases to reduce impacts to motorists. One lane of traffic in each direction will be maintained during construction and access to local businesses will remain open.

The project is scheduled to be complete in mid-spring 2019.

The contractor for the $840,000 project is Sunroc Corporation.

ITD will continue to update the public about the project. If you have questions, please email Jennifer.gonzalez@itd.idaho.gov or call 208.334.8938.

Nighttime closures on Overland Road in Meridian begin Sept. 11; closures in place through Sept. 16

Overland Road will be closed overnight at Idaho Highway 69 (Meridian Road) during the nights of Sept. 11-16 while the Idaho Transportation Department repaves the intersection.

The work is part of a series of safety improvements and pavement maintenance on ID-69.

During overnight paving, motorists on Overland Road will be detoured around the closure from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. The detour route will use Locust Grove and South Stoddard Road. One lane of Meridian Road will be open in both directions and flaggers will direct traffic as needed. All lanes will be open during the day.

Construction on ID-69 is expected to be completed by late September. For more information, visit www.itdprojects.org/projects/sh69 or text SH69 to 22828 to request email updates.

Weekend ramp closure planned for I-84/Karcher Interchange in Nampa; detour will be in place

Ongoing improvements to the Interstate 84/Karcher Interchange in Nampa will require the closure of the westbound off-ramp (Exit 33A) this weekend.

The ramp closure will begin Friday at 8 p.m. and will last until 5 a.m. Monday, Sept. 10.

Westbound Interstate 84 motorists will be directed to use Exit 35 at Northside Blvd. instead of Exit 33A during this closure. See detour map.

The project is scheduled to wrap up this fall.

*Eliminating exit 33B and adding lanes at exit 33A/Midland Blvd.
*Adding a second southbound lane to Midland Blvd.
*Adding a second left turn lane from the Karcher Bypass to southbound Midland Blvd.
*Upgrading sidewalks and traffic signals

To sign up for construction updates, please email Jennifer.gonzalez@itd.idaho.gov or call 208.334.8938.

UPDATE: Idaho Highway 69/Overland Road nighttime closures rescheduled for Sept. 11-16

BOISE– The Idaho Transportation Department will delay its planned closures of Overland Road until the nights of Sept. 11-16 due to equipment-scheduling issues.

The nighttime closures are part of a series of safety improvements and pavement maintenance on Idaho Highway 69 (Meridian Road) between Overland Road and the city of Kuna.

The project is expected to be completed by late September.

For updates about the Idaho 69 project and the Overland Road work, visit itdprojects.org/projects/69 or text SH69 to 22828 for email alerts.

Bridge preservation at Cole and Overland intersection in Boise to begin week of Aug. 27

Overnight maintenance on the Cole Road and Overland Road intersection over Interstate 84 is scheduled to begin next week. Improvements will seal the road surface and preserve pavement life.

The contractor is permitted to work between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and weekends. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction on Cole and Overland, with flagger assistance. Motorists can expect periodic delays up to 15 minutes and reduced speeds in the work zone. 

Drivers are asked to slow down and pay attention when traveling in this work zone.

Work is anticipated through mid-September. For updated construction information, please check 511 before you head out.

 

UPDATED: Nighttime and weekend closures scheduled next week as part of I-84/Karcher Interchange reconstruction

Aug. 23 update: Weekend closures scheduled for Aug. 24-Aug. 27 have been postponed. New dates will be shared in the new future.

 

BOISE– Ongoing improvements to the Interstate 84/Karcher Interchange in Nampa will require two closures the week of August 20. Motorists should plan ahead and consider an alternate route on the following dates:

Wed., Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. to Thurs., Aug. 23 at 5 a.m.: The interchange will be closed while crews install new traffic signals at the Midland Boulevard/Karcher Bypass intersection and remove two overhead signs. Midland Boulevard, Karcher Bypass, Exit 33 A, 33B and the westbound entrance ramp will all be closed to traffic. Motorists will be detoured via Nampa/Caldwell Boulevard and the Karcher Connector.

Fri., Aug. 24 at 8 p.m. – Mon. Aug. 27 at 5 a.m.: Exit Ramp 33A will be closed to traffic while crews reconstruct and modify the ramp. Westbound I-84 motorists will be directed to use Exit 35 at Northside Blvd instead of Exit 33A during this closure.

The project includes the following improvements:
*Eliminating exit 33B and adding lanes at exit 33A/Midland Blvd.
*Adding a second southbound lane to Midland Blvd.
*Adding a second left turn lane from the Karcher Bypass to southbound Midland Blvd.
*Upgrading sidewalks and traffic signals

To sign up for construction updates, please email Jennifer.gonzalez@itd.idaho.gov or call 208.334.8938.

The Sunday Backup: Idaho Highway 55 and the Banks-Lowman Intersection

Intersection of ID-55 and Banks-Lowman Road

Every summer, thousands of residents from the Treasure Valley escape the heat of the valley floor and head north into the cool beauty of the mountains, especially on weekends. When it’s time for all those people to head home Sunday night, traffic can get congested on our mountain roads.

Recently, a number of people have reached out to ITD concerned about one intersection in particular: Idaho Highway 55 and the Banks-Lowman Road. Those who sought recreation and cooler climes in Crouch or Garden Valley can find themselves in a long line of vehicles waiting to turn left (south) onto ID-55.

So, what’s to be done? Why is congestion so bad? What’s ITD doing about it? This article is part of an effort by the Idaho Transportation Department to provide information about the situation, what the Department is doing, and what some options may be moving forward.

The Situation

Graph of Daily Weekday Traffic on 2-lane facilities

Idaho 55 is a major corridor connecting the Treasure Valley, and some of the most pristine recreational destinations in America: Garden Valley, Cascade, Donnelly, and McCall. also one of two options for Treasure Valley residents to access Central and Northern Idaho, the other being US-95.

Because of this, ID-55 sees a major increase in traffic on the weekends. On a typical summer weekday, the section by Banks sees about 6,500 trips, split equally headed north and south. So there’s roughly 3,250 cars heading north and 3,250 cars heading south in a given day.

To give you a point of reference, let’s compare that section of ID-55 with other two-lane facilities in Southwest Idaho. ID-55 in Nampa sees around 18,500 weekday trips. US-20/26 in Meridian sees around 21,000 trips each day during the week. And a two lane section of ID-44 (State St.) west of Eagle experiences 23,500 daily trips in the work week.

The traffic situation does change on summer weekends for the section of ID-55 by Banks. Traffic significantly increases and is directional. On Friday and Saturday, most of that traffic is heading north. On Sunday, nearly all that traffic is heading south.

Graph of Daily Traffic S of Banks-Lowman/ID-55 intersection

You can check out our traffic counts by visiting our website.

The high volume of southbound traffic does mean it can take a while for a safe opening to appear for those waiting to turn left out of the Banks-Lowman Road. Between the waits for an opening, and the increased number of people leaving the Garden Valley area, you get congestion and increased drive times.

What does this mean? When we look at the data, the intersection of ID-55 and the Banks-Lowman Road functions well Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, for a few hours in the afternoon as everyone that traveled up during the week heads home, traffic on ID-55 is heavy and speeds are reduced. The flow on ID-55 is reasonably uninterrupted but there are long wait times for those turning left on the highway from the Banks-Lowman Road. Data reveal the significant congestion concern primarily happens for a few hours during the 15 Sundays of summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day).

Safety of the intersection

In addition to the concerns of congestion, people are concerned this might be a dangerous intersection. We can look to the data and see how things compare.

Our current confirmed traffic crash data goes up to 2016. If we look at the five-year history of this intersection, from 2012-2016, there have been 4 reportable crashes. Two of those crashes resulted only in property damage. One resulted in one person suffering minor injuries. The final crash resulted in one serious injury and two minor injuries. We are aware of the crash that occurred recently, involving the tragic loss of one life and injury to several others, not yet reported in our database.

Additionally, the Department tracks High Accident Locations (HAL) across the state and ranks them. The ranking is determined by the frequency of crashes (how many there have been), the severity of those crashes, and the rate of crashes (crashes per 1 million miles traveled). Based on current data, this intersection does not rank in the top 1,000 HAL intersections across the state. By comparison, the intersection of ID-55 and ID-44 in Eagle is #92.

ITD’s Action

As the Department weighs decisions, a number of factors are taken into consideration. Data, such as that outlined above, is one of those. The Department’s mission is “Your Safety. Your Mobility. Your Economic Opportunity.” So we gather the best data regarding these three factors to make sound decisions on how to best invest our limited transportation dollars

We care about you, the people of Idaho who we serve. Hearing from you is very important to us. It’s important we give you the information so you see what we see, and better understand how we make these decisions.

Our main effort to mitigate heavy weekend travel at this intersection is to flag it during the holiday weekends, when traffic is at its highest. Those weekends are Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Flagging is effective because the person at the intersection can make judgement calls in the moment and quickly stop and redirect traffic. Flagging costs the Department around $5,000 a day.

A long-range solution

Flagging can help improve traffic flow on busy weekends, but Idaho is growing and traffic is growing with it. So what can be done to decrease congestion at the ID-55 and Banks-Lowman Road intersection?

Before exploring these, it’s important to once again put this intersection in context. It does not rank high in terms of congestion or safety concerns. That’s a significant consideration when it comes to getting the most bang for the taxpayers’ buck. That said, ITD has been investigating possible opportunities for changes.

The following are some of the solutions ITD is exploring. Currently, there are no plans to implement any of these. Each of them will have trade-offs we want the public to consider.

1. Traffic Signal

This is the most popular suggestion we’ve received from the public. It’s an understandable solution. If the problem is cars coming down ID-55 not giving an opening for those turning out of Banks-Lowman, put in a signal to stop the highway traffic long enough to move some people out.

Traffic SignalWell, it gets a little more complicated than that.

First, the one-lane bridge to the boat landing, owned by the United States Forest Service, makes for an unusual intersection. In order to safely direct traffic on and off that leg, you need some extended signal timing, which will add considerable wait times and therefore congestion, primarily to ID-55, but also impacting Banks-Lowman Rd.

Another concern is that a signal will force the currently free-flowing traffic on ID-55 to stop. This creates a queue. As that queue backs up, major safety concerns arise. Imagine a driver coming down the mountain going 55mph, turning a corner and suddenly coming upon break lights. A signal adds new safety and mobility concerns, with every bit as much risk of serious injury as the existing condition, and possibly more overall delay for travelers.

2. Roundabout

A roundabout can keep traffic flowing and provide better opportunity for those coming off Banks-Lowman to get onto the highway.

Aerial view of the ID-55/Banks-Lowman intersection
Aerial view of the ID-55/Banks-Lowman intersection

Again, you have the issue of the one-lane bridge complicating things. Legs of a roundabout typically allow two-way travel.

Roundabouts also require a big footprint, something this intersection doesn’t have. Things are very tight with three of the quadrants bordered by rivers and the last hugging a mountainside. A roundabout would either require a massive bridge structure or significant carving out of the mountainside.

3. Third Lane

The Department has begun exploring the option of adding a third lane that would accept southbound traffic. The concept is this lane be open for left-turning traffic from Banks-Lowman to turn into that serves as a refuge from ID-55 southbound traffic. A vehicle could turn into this lane and gain speed to merge with ID-55.

We anticipate this project would require a new bridge on the south leg of the intersection to accommodate the extra lane, and we’d have to cut into the mountainside north and south of Banks-Lowman to make room for the lane and the tapers before and after.

The silver lining for this option is the age of the bridge on ID-55. Though it is safe today, it will have to be replaced in the near future due to its age and condition. Replacing it with a wider bridge becomes much more cost-effective at that time. Currently, this bridge is not scheduled for replacement in our 7-year plans.

The Bottom Line

We have absolutely heard from those of you wanting ITD to “fix this problem.” Hopefully this article shows we continue to look at ways to address the issue and that there’s no easy solution.

As we consider all of these actions, we have to weigh the cost benefit. The long-range options explored above will cost tens of millions of dollars. And in the context of crash data and congestion, it is far from our highest priority. That does not eliminate the possibility of making improvements, it just makes it much harder.

In the meantime, we continue to commit to flagging on the busy holiday weekends. We will continue to explore other alternatives.

We also encourage those who recreate on the weekends along this corridor to plan ahead. Consider leaving earlier or later to avoid the heaviest travel times. Consider alternate routes such as Idaho Highway 21 – the folks at Lowman and Idaho City would be happy to see you. Most importantly, anticipate that congestion is a reality during the summer weekends and use your best behavior to stay safe and keep your fellow motorists safe.

New traffic signals, roadway improvements to improve safety on Idaho Highway 69 in Meridian

The Idaho Transportation Department will begin constructing a series of safety improvements on Idaho Highway 69 (Meridian Road) in Meridian and Kuna next week. Motorists are advised to expect nighttime lane restrictions on the highway until early October.

Improvements will include:

  • Resurfacing ID-69 between Orchard Avenue in Kuna and Overland Road in Meridian.
  • Adding traffic signals at Hubbard and Lake Hazel roads.
  • Installing a median barrier to reduce left-turn crashes between Calderwood Drive and Overland Road.
  • Reconfiguring lanes at the intersection of Meridian and Overland roads to improve traffic flow.

ITD worked closely with the city of Meridian and Ada County Highway Department to develop the improvements after a recent safety analysis of the corridor. Crashes on ID-69 increased by nearly 50 percent between 2011 and 2016. ITD reached out to businesses earlier this year to discuss plans for this project.

Throughout this project, crews will work from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on week nights (Sunday-Thursday) and 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. One lane will be closed in both directions and flaggers will direct traffic at intersections. All lanes will be open during the day.

To request email updates about this project, text SH69 to 22828. For more details, visit itdprojects.org or contact ITD at (208) 334-8938 or Jennifer.gonzalez@itd.idaho.gov.

Construction will begin on Idaho 55 next week (July 16) near McCall

Idaho 55 Zachary to Goose Creek Map

The Idaho Transportation Department will begin a project next week (July 16) to resurface Idaho Highway 55 between New Meadows and McCall and construct a new retaining wall east of Brundage. The project will improve driving conditions and safety on this heavily traveled route.

From July to late August, crews will work between Zachary Road in McCall and Goose Lake Road near Brundage. View the postcard for details.

In order to keep traffic moving during the busy summer season, crews will work from 12 a.m. Monday to 12 p.m. Friday. All lanes will be open on weekends.

During the week, ID-55 will be reduced to one lane both day and night with a pilot car directing traffic. The speed limit will be reduced and 12-foot width restrictions will be in place.

“This will be a tight construction zone and we are asking for drivers’ patience during the work week. Please slow down in the work zone and pay close attention to signage, as crews will be working close to traffic,” said ITD Project Manager Jim Hoffecker.

Construction will move to the area between Goose Lake Road and Goose Creek Grade in late August. The project is expected to be completed this fall.

Nampa to Marsing, ID-55 preservation projects begin after 4th of July Holiday week

Map of seal coat project on ID-55 from Nampa to Marsing

A pavement rehabilitation project between Nampa and Marsing is scheduled to begin July 9 and conclude in late July/early August. Work will seal the pavement and extend the life of the roadway.

The first phase, a six-mile micro-seal from Nampa-Caldwell Boulevard to Farmway Road, will occur in the evening (10 pm – 5 am). Work is expected to conclude the week of July 16.

The second phase, an eight-mile chip-seal from Farmway to the Snake River Bridge at Marsing, will occur during daylight hours. Work is expected to conclude in late July.

During both phases, motorists can expect reduced speeds and up to 15-minute delays as traffic will be periodically reduced to one-lane with a pilot car guiding traffic. Where work is occurring, intersections will be controlled by flaggers with minimal delays. Motorists are encouraged to drive with caution through the work zone.

Schedules are subject to change. The contractor is permitted to work weekends. For up-to-date construction information, visit 511.idaho.gov.