Friday, October 28, 2011

Knife River denies motorists’ claims

ITD supports contractor on cause of vehicle ‘spotting’


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Knife River Corp. and the Idaho Transportation Department are denying responsibility for tar-like spotting on hundreds of vehicles that traversed a construction zone earlier this month on state Highway 75 between Hailey and Ketchum. Having the spots commercially removed is costing motorists about $150 per vehicle. Photo by David N. Seelig

Knife River Corp. and its insurance carrier are denying claims from motorists whose vehicles were spotted with a tar-like substance earlier this month in a state Highway 75 construction zone between Hailey and Ketchum.

Pamela Link, a Knife River spokeswoman in Bismarck, N.D., confirmed Wednesday that the company and Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. will not reimburse motorists to clean the spots off their vehicles.

"It was nothing that we did," Link said in an interview.

She denied speculation by motorists in an Oct. 21 story in the Idaho Mountain Express that Knife River had spread asphalt emulsion on the highway when spotting occurred on Oct. 4 as heavy rains blanketed the Wood River Valley.

"Knife River has performed the work according to all specifications of the contract laid out by the Idaho Department of Transportation," Link wrote a statement issued Wednesday to the Express. "When we milled down that surface, we did not place any emulsion product on the roadway. When it rained, we believe it reactivated something that was in the old roadbed."

Knife River is under contract with ITD to resurface the 10-mile stretch of highway between Hailey and Ketchum. The company, owned by MDU Resources Group, has an office in Boise and is headquartered in Bismarck.

ITD supported Knife River's position on the spotting issue in a separate statement issued late Tuesday afternoon.

"The contractor, Knife River, performed actions required by the contractor when milling the roadway prior to the Oct. 4 rain showers." ITD stated. "Upon study of the issues that followed, it was found there were no oil products spread on the milled surface prior to the rain, there was no material failures and the contractor did not do anything contrary to the contract.

"What did happen was the result of fine dust remnants following the milling process mixing with the rain water. This created an oily residue that, once dried, hardened on everything it hit. While a rare and unfortunate situation, this is the risk of driving in a construction zone. Several cleaners are capable of removing the residue, including citrus-based cleaners or mineral spirits."

<

Motorists whose vehicles were spotted have reported to the Express that removing the spots themselves took several hours and that commercial removal is costing about $150.

Meanwhile, Knife River continues work on the highway, hoping to get the new surface in place before cold weather precludes further construction.

"Hopefully, by this time next week they'll be finished," ITD spokesman Nathan Jerke said Thursday.

Jerke acknowledged that this week's colder morning temperatures in the Wood River Valley have caused later start times some days for the contractor. He said Knife River will be allowed to work this weekend if necessary.

According to an ITD press release, Knife River is expected to finish this week putting a new surface on the final few miles of highway from First Street in Ketchum south to the bridge over the Big Wood River near St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center.

Knife River is also redoing a section of asphalt several hundred feet long on the west side of the southbound highway lane in the Buttercup Road area. Jerke said the section developed stress cracks due to an improper oil mixture from the company's portable batch plant.

The company will also be working on road striping and turning lane delineation.

ITD earlier conceded that putting a final seal coat on most of the stretch of highway will have to wait until warmer temperatures arrive in 2012. ITD originally planned to have the entire project completed this year.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.