Friday, November 11, 2011

Knife River will be back next year

ITD plans more highway construction for 2012

Express Staff Writer

Though highway construction is nearly finished for this year in Blaine County, motorists can expect more traffic disruptions in 2012. Knife River Corp. will be back next year to finish two uncompleted state Highway 75 projects, and the Idaho Transportation Department has additional road construction in mind. Motorists are shown here during road construction last summer south of Bellevue. Express file photo

As Knife River Corp. wraps up highway construction for this year in Blaine County, motorists can expect to see the North Dakota company again in 2012 when it returns to finish work that won't get done in 2011.

Further, the Idaho Transportation Department has two new highway construction projects in mind for Blaine County next summer, one on state Highway 75 north of Timmerman Junction and the other in the area of the junction on U.S. Highway 20.

Knife River, headquartered in Bismarck, N.D., and with an office in Boise, successfully got a new surface on the deteriorating highway between Hailey and Ketchum by the end of October and is working this week to smooth out some of the rough spots.

"All they are working on for the remainder of this year is bump grinding," ITD spokesman Nathan Jerke said Wednesday. "Depending on the weather, they should be done by the middle of next week."

Jerke said there will likely be some single lane closures while the work is being done, but "cars should be able to get through there pretty easily."

But bump grinding won't be the end of work on state Highway 75 between Ketchum and Hailey. Because of delays in getting the project started and finished, putting a micro-seal on most of the 10-mile stretch of highway will have to wait until next summer.

Jerke said the micro-seal work will likely take place next July or August and will last about three weeks.

"If it does get done a little early, everybody will be happy," he said.

Also left unfinished by Knife River this year is a 28-mile stretch of state Highway 75 north of Ketchum between Frenchman Creek and Stanley. The company finished putting a new surface on the highway in early September but was unable to get a chip-seal coat on. That work too will be carried into next summer.

Knife River completed a third highway project this year in Blaine County, putting a new surface on 5.5 miles of state Highway 75 south of Bellevue.

More highway work

Two new highway projects await Blaine County in 2012. Neither contract has yet been set, so who will do the work remains unknown. Jerke said ITD is required to award the projects to the lowest bidder.

Resurfacing the remaining 3.5 miles of highway between Bellevue and Timmerman Junction is one of the projects planned by ITD for next summer. Jerke said ITD expects that work to take place in July or August and will involve putting about 2 inches of new asphalt on the existing surface, followed by a seal-coat.

Also on tap for 2012 is 10 miles of resurfacing on Highway 20 on both sides of Timmerman Junction. Referred to as the Poison Creek Project, work will be done on about seven miles of highway west of Timmerman Junction and about three miles of highway east of the intersection. The project will also involve maintenance work on the bridge over the Big Wood River at Stanton Crossing.

Additional highway work is planned for 2013 as well. As part of a Highway 75 expansion project, ITD is already working on right-of-way acquisition along Highway 75 between Timber Way, just north of East Fork Road, and the bridge over the Big Wood River near St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center. Construction to widen the highway is currently planned to begin in spring 2013.

Terry Smith:

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