Friday, May 2, 2014

Idaho Sand & Gravel is back

Construction resumes on Highway 75 widening project

Express Staff Writer

Crews operating backhoes and graders work this week on state Highway 75 near St. Luke’s Wood River hospital. The work is part of an Idaho Transportation Department highway widening project that extends south into the mid-valley. Photo by Willy Cook

   Idaho Sand & Gravel, the Jerome-based company contracted to widen a portion of state Highway 75 south of Ketchum, returned to the Wood River Valley this week to finish a job it started last year.
    The project is scheduled to be done this summer, Idaho Transportation Department Project Development Engineer Walter Burnside said at a meeting of the Blaine County Regional Transportation Committee on Thursday.
    However, ITD has already acknowledged that such may not be the case.
    “A lot of it depends on how the work goes,” ITD District 4 spokesman Nathan Jerke said in April. “They’ve still got more than half the roadway to construct.”
    Idaho Sand & Gravel, contracted by ITD to widen a 3.25-mile section of the highway for $9.44 million, is focusing initial work on completing the southbound traffic lane. Most of it was completed in 2013, but remaining to be done is the section of highway from the intersection of Hospital Drive north to the bridge over the Big Wood River.

A lot of it depends on how the work goes.
They’ve still got more than half the roadway to construct.”

Nathan Jerke
Idaho Transportation Department

    At some point, traffic passing through the construction zone on the old roadway from the bridge to Hospital Drive will have to be switched to the new southbound lane on the west side of the road. Burnside told the committee that the goal is to have that accomplished by the end of May.
    The project is officially known as the Timber Way to Big Wood River Bridge Project. Timber Way does not intersect Highway 75, but is located to the west and just north of East Fork Road. The bridge referred to is the one near St. Luke’s Wood River hospital.
    ITD issued its first construction update of the year on Wednesday. The construction updates are distributed by the department about every other week to local officials, the news media and other interested parties.
    In addition to work on the southbound lane, the update states that traffic may be reduced to one lane starting on May 7 while a pipe is installed across Hospital Drive South. Flaggers will be out to control traffic during the operation.
    Other upcoming work includes installation of curbs and gutters north of the Hospital Drive intersection beginning on May 12. Paving is expected to take place the week of May 19.
    The update states that work will also start soon for the northbound lane on the east side of the roadway. Initial work will involve installation of storm drainpipe and underground storm water settling ponds.
    Milling and excavation of the northbound lane is expected to begin after Memorial Day weekend.
    ITD also noted in the update that utility work will continue in some areas “throughout the project as necessary.”
    Once completed, the 3.25-mile section of highway will have two lanes in both directions and center turn lanes and deceleration lanes at key intersections.
    The project is the first phase of a 27-mile expansion plan for Highway 75 from Timmerman Junction north to Saddle Road in north Ketchum.
    Work on the second phase, which involves replacing the bridge near St. Luke’s and widening the highway to four lanes north to Elkhorn Road, is planned to begin in 2016.
    The remaining phases are still unfunded.

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