Friday, May 4, 2012

Construction coming soon to Highway 75

Knife River says next week, ITD says otherwise


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Traffic moves north as road crews work to resurface state Highway 75 in the Wood River Valley last summer. Contractor Knife River Corp. is getting ready to start two new road construction projects near Timmerman Junction, south of Bellevue. Photo by Mountain Express

Blaine County motorists could see some familiar faces sometime this month in the vicinity of Timmerman Junction, as Knife River Corp. gets rolling on two new Idaho Department of Transportation highway construction projects.

But when construction will start is still somewhat of a puzzler.

Knife River announced in a news release that construction—"if weather conditions cooperate"—will start the week of May 7. But ITD spokesman Nathan Jerke said Thursday that Knife River may be a "little overzealous" and that ITD expects work to begin no sooner than the week of May 14.

"The contractor has high hopes, but ITD has to make sure that all the permits and all the approvals are in line prior to letting the contractor go to work," Jerke said. "Everything I've heard from our construction guys is they're expecting them to start the week of the 14th."

Knife River, headquartered in Bismarck, N.D., had three ITD highway projects in Blaine County last year and was awarded two new contracts in the county for this year.

The first, worth $2.04 million, is to resurface a 10-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 20 on either side of Timmerman Junction, where the highway intersects state Highway 75. The project also involves maintenance work on the Highway 20 bridge over the Big Wood River at Stanton Crossing.

The second, worth, $707,000, is to resurface 3.6 miles of Highway 75 from the Timmerman Junction rest area north toward Bellevue.

Knife River stated in the news release that both projects involve an asphalt overlay followed by a chip seal. Both projects are required to be finished by June 27.

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The construction schedule was discussed at a meeting of the Blaine County Regional Transportation Committee on Thursday morning, when ITD officials said work should start about the middle of May. However, when questioned, they acknowledged it might start earlier.

Whenever work starts, ITD Project Development Engineer Walter Burnside said there may be some temporary traffic disruption in the Timmerman Junction area.

"That's going to have two jobs—that's going to have a little impact for a while," he said.

Burnside said Idaho State Police have agreed to provide extra patrols in the area while the work is taking place.

In other highway developments discussed at the meeting, Justin Price, introduced by Burnside as ITD's new resident engineer, said Knife River will resume work on the unfinished portion of Highway 75 between Hailey and Ketchum during the fourth week of July.

Knife River resurfaced the 10-mile stretch of highway between Hailey and Ketchum last summer, but was unable to get a micro-seal on 6.75 miles of the project because of earlier delays that ran the work into late October.

Price said applying the micro-seal should take about two weeks and be completed by the second week of August.

Farther south in Lincoln County, Price said work is expected to start next week on reconstructing an eight-mile section of Highway 75 from Shoshone north. ITD awarded that project to Idaho Sand and Gravel for $13.2 million.

"The work on that project is going to start next week and it will be finished next summer," Price said.

For the future, Burnside said ITD is studying needed repairs on Highway 75 between Galena Summit and Galena Lodge. He did not say when a contract might be awarded.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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