Friday, October 14, 2011

Highway project back on track

Contractor taking advantage of warmer weather

Express Staff Writer

With this week's warmer temperatures, Knife River Corp. resumed paving on state Highway 75 between Hailey and Ketchum, hoping to get a new surface on the 10-mile stretch of roadway before Indian summer ends.

Paving was suspended for a few days last week because of heavy rains and cold temperatures.

The Idaho Transportation Department announced Thursday that work this week will be mainly concentrated on finishing the portion of highway between Hailey and Ohio Gulch. By the middle of next week, Knife River—the Boise company contracted for the project—hopes to start work on the section of highway from Ketchum south to the bridge over the Big Wood River near St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center.

ITD has already announced that the project won't be finished this year, but hopes that work carried into 2012 will consist of only putting a micro-seal on the new surface.

ITD spokesman Nathan Jerke acknowledged Wednesday that the agency received about a dozen complaints this week from motorists upset about asphalt splashing on their vehicles.

Jerke said the problem occurred late last week when heavy rains mixed with asphalt particles on a milled section of the highway. Milling involves scraping off the old deteriorated roadway in preparation for new asphalt.

"It should come off, given time," Jerke said. "But it's something of concern if you pride yourself on a clean car.

"It happens at many construction sites. In the grand scheme, this is pretty minor compared to what's happened elsewhere. Generally, it's up to the contractor to decide how it will be handled."

Jerke said ITD anticipates that Knife River will get at least another week of warm weather to try to finish the new surface.

Weather in the Wood River Valley for the next week is forecast to remain mostly sunny with high temperatures in the upper 50s and low 60s.

Terry Smith:

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