Friday, April 25, 2014

Highway work to resume Monday

ITD acknowledges work may not be finished this summer

Express Staff Writer

Mike McKinnon, a Century Link employee, works on wire relocation Wednesday in a state Highway 75 construction zone south of Ketchum. The Idaho Transportation Department announced this week that actual highway work is scheduled to begin on Monday. Photo by Roland Lane

     The Idaho Transportation Department announced this week that construction is set to resume Monday, April 28, on a 3.25-mile section of state Highway 75 south of Ketchum.

     Resumption of construction follows a five-month work suspension on the stretch of highway from Timber Way just north of East Fork Road to the bridge over the Big Wood River near St. Luke’s Wood River hospital.

     ITD stated in a news release that the agency is hopeful, but can’t guarantee, that the project will be finished this summer.

     “The contractor anticipates completing the project by the end of summer, but any delay due to weather or unforeseen complications may extend work schedules,” the news release states.

     ITD was hopeful last year that the project, started in the spring of 2013, would be finished that year. However, it wasn’t and work was suspended with the advent of cold weather last November.

     “There were a lot of challenges the contractor had to work through in 2013, which pushed the project in this second season,” stated Justin Price, resident engineer for ITD District 4, headquartered in Shoshone. “With most of the big items already done or nearly so, we anticipate construction will be successfully completed.”

     The project involves expanding the stretch of highway into two lanes in both directions. The new roadway will also have intermittent center turn lanes and turn bays for access to business and residential areas. Idaho Sand & Gravel Co., of Jerome, was contracted by ITD for the project at $9.44 million.

     ITD reported in the news release that “significant features” completed last year were most of the new southbound roadway, retaining walls near Owl Rock Road and McHanville, a sound wall at Drashner Trailer Park, removal of contaminated soil at the former Dean Tire location, installation of storm-water infiltration and pipe systems and installation of a new traffic signal at the highway’s intersection with Hospital Drive.

     Remaining work includes construction of new northbound lanes, completion of southbound lanes from near Hospital Drive north to the Big Wood River bridge, completion of pipe work and an additional infiltration pond for storm water collection, completion of retaining-wall facades, reconstruction of driveways and business access lanes, completion of highway shoulders and installation of new signs.

     ITD advised motorists that one lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction in the construction zone but that there will be occasional traffic delays when necessary.

     “Drivers are reminded to use caution throughout the entire construction zone, watch for construction traffic and crews, and diligently watch for other drivers who may be stopping while turning of the highway,” the news release states.

     The project is the first of seven phases of a 27-mile highway expansion plan that runs from Timmerman Junction, south of Bellevue, north to Saddle Road in northern Ketchum. A second phase that will expand the highway from the Big Wood River Bridge near the hospital to just south of Elkhorn Road is now in the planning stages, with construction scheduled to begin in 2016.

     ITD reported that construction of the other five phases “will follow as funding becomes available.”

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