Memorial Day Weekend Marks Beginning of the 100 Deadliest Days

Memorial Day Weekend is here. The unofficial start to summer brings with it barbeques, camping trips and the beginning of the most dangerous time on Idaho’s roads.

“The weather is nice, kids are out of school and there are just more people out on the roads,” said John Tomlinson from the Idaho Transportation Department’s Office of Highway Safety.

The period of time between the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend and the end of Labor Day Weekend are often referred to as the 100 Deadliest Days of summer.

According to preliminary crash reports, 244 people died in crashes on Idaho roads in 2017 – 90 of those deaths were during this time period.

“Every time we lose someone on our roads, it impacts all of us,” Tomlinson said. “We will be working with our law enforcement partners to reduce crashes but we need help from everyone to make our roads and communities safer.”

To help keep roads safe this summer, ITD is planning multiple mobilizations to crack down on drunk drivers and to encourage people to buckle up. Tomlinson says it shouldn’t be up to the police alone to keep us safe.

“We can all do a little more,” he said. “We can all be more engaged while we’re out on the roads. Let’s put away the distractions and buckle up. If you choose to drink, plan a safe ride home. It’s up to all of us to get where we’re going safely.”

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.

Community open house to discuss I-84 Business Loop construction in downtown Nampa to be held May 31

The Idaho Transportation Department will host a community open house to discuss the construction plans for the I-84 Business Loop in downtown Nampa on Thursday, May 31.

The open house will run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Nampa Civic Center, Casler Room, 311 3rd Street South in Nampa. Community members are invited to stop by any time to learn more about the construction plans and discuss the project. Construction work will include the following streets:

• Garrity Boulevard (11th Avenue North to Grant Street)
• 11th Avenue (3rd Street South to Garrity Boulevard)
• 3rd Street South (Northside Boulevard to 11th Avenue)
• 2nd Street South (Northside Boulevard to 11th Avenue)
• Library Square
• Northside/2nd Street intersection

Download the project fact sheet for more information.

Construction is anticipated to begin in June and be completed in late summer 2018. The project will resurface and reconstruct several roads in downtown Nampa to improve driving conditions and safety.

Business access will remain open at all times during the day. A majority of the work will occur at night between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. with some lane restrictions and detours necessary. Lane restrictions may also be necessary for curb and gutter work during the day.

Pedestrian ramps are also being replaced throughout the project area to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Pedestrian ramp work will occur during the day Monday through Friday and may require brief sidewalk closures.

To receive email updates about this project, text “NAMPA” to 22828 or email Jennifer.Gonzalez@itd.idaho.gov. Construction details also will be posted to itd.idaho.gov/d3.

 

Emerald Street Connector Overpass opens Saturday

Crews wrap up the repavement of the Emerald St. overpass along I-184

BOISE – Bridge preservation work on the Emerald Street overpass of I-184 (the Connector) between Cole Road and Curtis Road, is complete. The bridge reopens to all traffic beginning Saturday morning (May 19).

Preservation work on additional Treasure Valley bridges will continue this summer at the following locations:

  • I-84, Meridian Road Interchange
  • I-84, Broadway Avenue Interchange
  • I-84, Cole-Overland Interchange
  • I-84, Gowen Road Interchange
  • Broadway Avenue, Boise River Bridge

Unlike at Emerald, remaining work will not require full closures and most work will be completed at night. Motorists can expect lane reductions and reduced speeds.

“Bridge preservation work is intended to strengthen the bridge surfaces and extend the life of the pavement, reducing the need for additional maintenance at a later date,” said Crystal Grasmick, ITD Project Manager. “We appreciate the traveling public’s patience as we work through these important improvements.”

Cannon Builders, Inc. is the contractor on this $2.7 million project. For up-to-date traffic impact information, visit 511.idaho.gov.

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.

Nighttime lane restrictions begin soon for Broadway, Front and Myrtle (US-20) repaving

Myrtle Street

Nighttime lane restrictions will begin in tonight, Wednesday May 16 on Front Street, Myrtle Street and Broadway Avenue in Boise as the Idaho Transportation Department prepares to repave all three roadways.

The project will include milling off the worn asphalt and replacing it with new pavement. Construction is anticipated to begin on Myrtle Street, then move to Front Street, and on to Broadway Avenue in late June or July.

The repaving work is expected to be completed in late summer.

Work includes:
• Myrtle Street between I-184 (Connector) and Broadway Avenue
• Front Street between I-184 (Connector) and Broadway Avenue
• Broadway Avenue between Rossi Street and the New York Canal north of I-84

The majority of construction will occur from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. All lanes will be open during the day. Occasional work will be scheduled on Friday and Saturday 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

During nighttime paving operations, two lanes will be open on Front and Myrtle Streets. One lane will be open in each direction on Broadway Avenue.

“To get construction updates, sign up for emails or text messages from the ITD Office of Communication,” said ITD Southwest Idaho Resident Engineer Jayme Coonce. “Dates and plans can change quickly due to unpredictable weather and other factors. ITD will send regular updates to keep motorists, residents and businesses informed.”

To request email updates, text US2026 to 22828. Updates also will be posted to itd.idaho.gov/D3.

ITD estimates 30,000 vehicles travel on Myrtle, Front and Broadway each day. The U.S. 20 resurfacing project is expected to extend the pavement lifespan approximately 10-12 years.

Sunroc Corporation, of Boise, is the contractor for $3.14 million project.

Help reduce roadside hazards and make highways safer

With snow melting and spring returning, highway crews are exchanging plows for dump trucks and are transitioning into summer maintenance. Every year crews performing routine maintenance are often delayed by signs placed too close to the roadway by the public. Regardless of the message, signs must be removed if they present a safety concern or are placed on state property.

Keeping the roadside free from obstacles preserves drivers’ line of sight and makes them available for emergency situations and staging equipment or personnel when needed.

If you need to place a sign near the road, please do not create a hazard. Refer to this Idaho Statue that guides sign placement and check with the local ITD office to make sure any sign you install does not pose a safety concern and is not on state property. Generally, signs placed beyond utility poles are not on state property.

Let’s do our part to support safety on local highways and let crews focus on keeping the highways in good repair.

Safety improvements on US-95 in Bonners Ferry to begin next week

South Hill

Reconstruction of US-95 through Bonners Ferry will begin during the week of May 14 and is expected to improve safety.

Crews will work from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Some night work will be permitted. One lane in each direction will remain open during the day, but night work will require alternating, one-way traffic.

To learn more about this project, the public may attend a meeting on Thursday, May 10 at 1 p.m. at the Bonners Ferry Visitor Center. Project staff will be available to provide construction details.

This two-year project will reconstruct the highway and improve pedestrian facilities between Alderson Lane and the bridge over the Kootenai River. Construction between Madison Street and the bridge will end in early October, and Madison Street to Alderson Lane will be reconstructed in 2019.

The highway will be expanded to three lanes and will include wider shoulders that can be used as bike lanes and separated sidewalks on both sides. The aging signal at Alderson Lane will not be replaced by the state after widening the highway.

After construction, the highway will transition from four lanes to two lanes at the bottom of the South Hill, addressing safety concerns by allowing drivers to merge before the crosswalk and the Madison Street intersection at the top of the hill. Reconfiguration of lanes is intended to reduce speeding, and vehicles entering the highway from Ash Street will also be able to use new acceleration lanes.

Construction to extend improvements from Alderson Lane to Labrosse Hill Street could begin as early as 2020.

Throughout construction, the public may receive updates by visiting the project website, checking 511 or attending weekly meetings held every Thursday. Once a schedule is finalized, details about the weekly meetings will be posted to the website.

Give ITD feedback on Mountain Home plans

Mt Home Study

The Idaho Transportation Department is seeking public comment on several long-range plans in Mountain Home.

The Department and the City of Mountain Home have worked together to create concepts for the interchanges at Exits 90 (Old US-30) and 95 (American Legion) as well as access control along American Legion Blvd (Idaho Highway 51 and US-20). You can see project details and leave a comment by visiting the project website.

The redesign on Exit 90 is designed to improve the safety and efficiency of the interchange. It also accommodates a future connection to NW Mashburn Road.

At Exit 95, ITD is asking for public comment on three alternative designs. Each design has its own advantages and trade-offs. Your input will be valuable in helping to determine the best choice.

The access study is a collaborative effort between ITD and Mountain Home to provide long-range guidance on safer configurations for American Legion Blvd. The design promotes safety while ensuring the public can access businesses along the corridor. Once finalized, this plan will provide up-front information for businesses seeking to develop in the area, enhancing the local economy.

The comment period for this study will end May 15, 2018.

Get to know your Idaho with ITD’s free historical photo archive

BOISE – The history of Idaho is very much intertwined with the history of our highways and roads. Early pioneers built the Gem State by carving highways and byways into our diverse landscape. From rolling hills, fertile plains, and lush meadows, to stark desert and rugged mountains, highways connect them all.

You now have the opportunity to uncover that early highway history – Idaho’s heritage — through a free online archive of more than 30,000 historical images.

ITD’s free photo collection is at itd.idaho.gov/photohistory.

Accessing the photos is simple. Just go to the site, enter your search criteria (name and location of the photo you want), then download the results in whatever size you need. Here’s a short video to walk you through the process.

May is Historic Preservation Month, so what better time to unveil this new service? Travel back in time and get to know your Idaho!