Friday, April 5, 2013

Contractor gears up for highway expansion

ITD says contract is still not finalized

Idaho Sand & Gravel, the low bidder for a state Highway 75 widening project south of Ketchum, is mobilizing in the Cold Springs area to begin the job. Utility work is already under way but the start of actual road construction is at least two weeks away. Photo by Roland Lane

Idaho Sand & Gravel Co. is gearing up for construction work on state Highway 75 south of Ketchum, even though as of Thursday morning the Jerome company had not been awarded a contract.

“It’s not been officially awarded yet, but they must be comfortable enough to start mobilizing their equipment,” Nathan Jerke, spokesman for Idaho Transportation Department District 4, said Wednesday. “I don’t know what the holdup is.”

Jerke noted that the contract will most likely go to Idaho Sand & Gravel. Idaho Sand & Gravel officials declined to comment on the contract and referred questions instead to ITD.

Jerke said Idaho Sand & Gravel submitted the low bid of $9,436,213 for reconstruction and expansion of a 3.25-mile section of highway south of Ketchum. ITD engineers had estimated that the work would cost about $10.9 million.

The company began moving equipment this week to a construction staging area on the west side of the highway in the Cold Springs area. Utility work is already underway for the project, but Jerke said the actual start of road construction is at least two weeks away.

“The contractor cannot begin digging dirt until their storm water pollution prevention plan is complete,” Jerke said. “That hasn’t even been submitted to ITD yet.”

Once it’s submitted, Jerke said, there is 14-day public “viewing period,” which is a federal requirement that gives state and federal agencies the opportunity to review and approve the plan.

The project involves reconstructing and widening the section of Highway 75 from Timber Way north of East Fork Road to the bridge over the Big Wood River near St. Luke’s Wood River.

The highway will be widened to four lanes with intermittent center turn lanes. Deceleration lanes will be built at the Gimlet Road, Cold Springs Drive and south Broadway Run intersections. Also, a new light will be installed at the intersection of Hospital Drive.

The work may be finished this year, but Jerke said the contract will allow it to continue into 2014 if necessary.

The project is the first phase of a highway expansion project that if eventually funded would provide for widening of the road all the way from Timmerman Junction to Saddle Road in north Ketchum. ITD does not know when or even if federal highway funds will be available to complete the entire expansion.

Terry Smith:

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