Friday, August 29, 2014

Heavy rains delay highway paving

ITD still hopeful of September finish to project

Express Staff Writer

Paving resumed this week on a road construction project on state Highway 75 south of Ketchum. Paving by the construction contractor, Idaho Sand & Gravel Co., was delayed for more than a week this month because of heavy rains in the Wood River Valley. Photo by Roland Lane

   Following more than a week of delay because of heavy rains in the Wood River Valley, paving resumed this week on a state Highway 75 construction project south of Ketchum.
    “They’re going to be a week or two late,” Idaho Transportation Department spokesman Nathan Jerke said Tuesday, referring to ITD construction contractor Idaho Sand & Gravel Co. “They got a lot of way to go still.”
    Regardless of the delay, one of several that have occurred with the project, Jerke said ITD is still expecting that the work will be finished by the end of September.
    “The critical path right now is the paving, and they can’t do that in the rain,” he said. “It has to be dry.”
    The project, now in its second year, involves widening a 3.25-mile section of Highway 75 from Timber Way just north of East Fork Road to the bridge over the Big Wood River near St. Luke’s Wood River. When finished, the section of highway will have two lanes in each direction and center and deceleration lanes at major intersections.

They’re making progress—it’s just there have been
delays this year.”
Nathan Jerke
Idaho Transportation Department

    Paving was completed earlier on the southbound lanes. Paving of the northbound lanes started on Aug. 15, and at that time was projected to last about two weeks and be finished by the end of this week.
    The latest plan, according to Jerke, is: “They will continue paving until paving is complete.”
    Idaho Sand & Gravel, starting on the south end of the project and working north, completed just over 25 percent of paving before heavy rains caused a shutdown last week. The contractor, as of Wednesday, still had to complete paving of almost half the bottom layer of the new roadbed and the entire top layer in the 3.25-mile construction zone.
    “They’re making progress—it’s just there have been delays this year,” Jerke said.
    He said Idaho Sand & Gravel was delayed by about a month earlier this summer because of the unforeseen necessity of moving vast amounts of saturated soil from the roadbed. The problem was particularly acute on the north end of the project where there is a high water table and several springs.
    Idaho Sand & Gravel also encountered a significant delay in the summer of 2013 because of unanticipated soil contamination where the Dean Tire business was located. Soil testing and analysis and removal of contaminated materials was much more significant than had originally been anticipated, Jerke said. The project was also delayed last summer by the Beaver Creek Fire burning in the Wood River Valley.
    “That’s the story of this whole project,” he said. “What’s next, what’s next?”

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