An independent team assembled by the Idaho Transportation Department to conduct a road safety audit on U.S. 12/U.S. 95 in front of Aht’Wy Plaza delivered recommendations yesterday.
The team developed recommendations to address highway safety concerns near entrances to the Clearwater River Casino and Lodge after the deaths of two drivers within approximately three months. Team members came from Nez Perce Tribal Transportation Department, Nez Perce County Road and Bridge, the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council, the Federal Highway Administration, ITD and ITD’s Office of Highway Safety.
They recommended an interchange, which is already planned for the east entrance, as the long-term solution to provide safe access from the plaza to the highway. The following phased options could be pursued by the Nez Perce Tribe with ITD before its construction.
- Short-term options: All incoming traffic would enter at the west approach, and all exiting traffic would leave at the east approach.
- Later options: Three possible options were presented and could be implemented individually or jointly.
- Add an acceleration lane for eastbound traffic at the east entrance.
- Widen the westbound right turn lane at the east entrance to create separation between turning and thru traffic.
- Create ThrU-turns for both intersections. All left turns into and out of the plaza would be accomplished by first turning right and then making a U-turn to reach a destination.
Lowering the speed limit was considered but not recommended.
As part of the audit, the team evaluated road conditions and driver behavior. Factors not considered in the audit include construction costs, environmental impacts and right of way impacts.
A final report will be issued in three to four weeks. ITD will start assessing the viability of all recommendations with the tribe in the meantime.