Friday, August 5, 2011

ITD confident of highway work schedule

Hailey to Ketchum resurfacing still set for late August


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Though a Boise company hired for highway resurfacing south of Bellevue ran about a month over schedule on the project, the Idaho Transportation Department expressed confidence that the same company can complete two other highway projects in Blaine County before cold weather sets in this fall.

"You notice that the south-of-Bellevue project is finally done," ITD District Engineer Devin Rigby told the Blaine County Regional Transportation Committee on Thursday.

The Knife River Corp. started the $2 million resurfacing project for a 5.5-mile stretch of state Highway 75 south of Bellevue in early June and originally expected to have the work completed by early July. Instead, work ran into August because of problems with Knife River's computerized portable batch plant for mixing asphalt.

Rigby described the batch plant problem as a "nightmare" for the company.

"It took them the entire project to get the thing up and running right," he said.

Knife River began moving its paving equipment north on Highway 75 late this week for a 28-mile resurfacing project between Frenchman Creek and Stanley.

Rigby said the company plans to lay a test strip on Monday and to begin actual roadwork late next week.

"The expectation is that it will be about a 10-day paving job," he said.

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Knife River has a $4.26 million contract from ITD for the Frenchman Creek-to-Stanley job. Unlike the Bellevue area project, which required milling away the existing roadbed, this job involves only applying a new surface.

The new roadway materials already have been crushed in a pit at Fourth of July Creek. Once resurfacing begins, Knife River will be working seven days a week.

After that project is finished, Knife River is scheduled to begin a $5.4 million, 10-mile milling and resurfacing project on Highway 75 between Hailey and Ketchum.

Rigby said there will be some detours at Buttercup Road north of Hailey and at Broadway Run near St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center.

"That's going to really accelerate their ability to get that done," Rigby said.

He said the contract prohibits the company from doing roadwork on Labor Day weekend.

ITD Project Development Engineer Walter Burnside told the committee that there also will be work restrictions for Knife River while other events such as the Sun Valley Arts & Crafts Festival are underway.

"We've put in place a number of restrictions that this committee wanted," Burnside said, adding that work restrictions will help keep traffic flowing during peak morning and afternoon commute hours.

He said the project should start in late August and be finished in October.

"Right now, everything looks pretty good," Burnside said.

In an interview later Thursday, ITD spokesman Nathan Jerke said Knife River is bringing in a different portable batch plant from a completed job in Oregon.

"Hopefully, this one doesn't have the mechanical problems that the other one had," Jerke said. "We still anticipate getting all our projects done in Blaine County this fall."

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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