Friday, September 21, 2007

Bellevue-to-Hailey paving project postponed

Early cold spell cause for concern for road crews

Express Staff Writer

An $800,000 Bellevue-to-Hailey re-paving project set to begin this fall has been postponed until next spring.

A representative for the Idaho Transportation Department said the reason for the delay is two-fold. The paramount reason for the delay, however, is the unpredictability of mountain weather.

"The project begins by milling off the top layer of asphalt," said ITD's Tom Logan. "Our concern was milling off the top layer and then seeing temperatures that would not allow us to complete the project. We did not want people to have to drive on that for the entire winter."

Logan said the minimum paving temperature is 40-degrees Fahrenheit.

"In that area it's almost impossible to tell what the weather is going to do," said Nathan Jerke, public information specialist for ITD's District 4.

The second reason involves complications in finding the exact mixture for an oil-to-asphalt ratio.

"Each mixture is site-specific," Jerke said, meaning the ratio of oil to asphalt varies depending on the conditions to which the road will be subjected. Temperatures, traffic flows and other factors go into the ratio analysis.

The project will resume in late May or early June, weather permitting. Re-paving of the 3.5-mile stretch from Spruce Street in Bellevue to Airport Way in Hailey is expected to take 15 working days. To avoid gridlock during peak traffic hours, crews plan to work overnight from 7 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. During that time, Highway 75 will be reduced to one lane, and flaggers and a pilot car will assist motorists through the construction site. Jerke said delays are expected to last between 10 and 20 minutes.

A Bellevue company, Valley Paving, won the contract and will assume construction responsibilities in the spring.

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