The Idaho Transportation Department is in the process of designing improvements to US-95 between Sagle and Sandpoint, with the first phase planned for construction this summer.
“This is one of the true concerns of Bonner County,” said Steve Klatt, the director for the Bonner County Road and Bridge Department. “It’s been a tremendously collaborative effort with Senator Jim Woodward and the Idaho Transportation Department, and I’m impressed at the traction we’re seeing on this project.”
Changes this year include adding acceleration lanes for drivers turning onto US-95 to head north or south. The existing center turn lane on US-95 will transition to a dedicated turn lane for northbound traffic accessing Lakeshore Drive, and dedicated lanes for different turning movements from Lakeshore Drive will be established.
“For years we’ve heard from local officials and drivers that they want that intersection made safer,” ITD Program Manager Bill Roberson said. “We’ve looked at the crash data and delay issues when talking with local representatives to identify a short-term solution.”
The second phase, scheduled for 2022, calls for the construction of a median U-turn for left-turning traffic from Lakeshore Drive. The department is also considering a median U-turn for left-turning traffic from Bottle Bay Road.
“This mimics what we’re told a lot of drivers are already doing,” Roberson said.
While drivers would still have the option to turn left from Lakeshore Drive to head into town, with the median U-turn they could also turn right, and once further away from the congestion at end of the Long Bridge, use a new lane to make a U-turn near Bottle Bay and rejoin traffic.
These median turns would be similar to those on US-95 in Ponderay.
“Our goal is to reduce delays for drivers trying to turn on to the highway while also improving safety for drivers already on it,” Roberson said.
The last element to improve safety in the corridor, also planned for 2022, is a signal at Sagle Road. All modifications are estimated to cost $8 million to construct.
“We are still finalizing the details,” Roberson said. “We are trying to avoid restricting left turns from Lakeshore Drive onto US-95, but that could happen in the future. The good news is drivers will still be able to head north by using the median U-turn to the south.”