For the week of May 5, 1999  thru May 11, 1999  

Highway truck traffic will surge as construction season warms up

Express Staff Writer

A new temporary traffic signal to be placed at this Highway 75 intersection south of Ketchum will slow traffic this spring as 10 trucks a day deliver concrete for construction of the new St. Luke's hospital

Spring in the Wood River Valley is a harbinger of lilacs, lupine, wild roses and, alas, construction vehicle traffic on State Highway 75.

As in past summers, thousands of trucks hauling fill and other construction materials will squeeze onto the highway, slowing down the commute for valley drivers.

Two major projects are slated to begin in May—the Friedman Memorial Airport runway shift and construction of the 95,000-square-foot St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center.

An estimated 7,500 trucks hauling fill will drop in on the airport this summer, according to Friedman Memorial Airport manager Rick Baird.

The new St. Luke’s WRMC will draw about ten concrete trucks a day during foundation pouring, which will take "several weeks," according to St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center vice president Bill Bodner.

Bodner estimated that outside of foundation pouring, three construction trucks a day will come to the site.

Pouring will begin as soon as the St. Luke’s WRMC receives a building permit from the Blaine County Commissioners.

"It is estimated that we’ll get the permit in the third week of May," Bodner said.

To alleviate congestion from those trucks, St. Luke’s officials announced that a temporary signal will be installed at the entrance to the new hospital site just south of the area known as McHanville south of Ketchum.

That signal, which is expected to be operational in early May, will be green for all travelers on the highway unless a vehicle is entering or exiting the site.

Most of the fill for the new hospital was maintained and stored on-site last year, which will alleviate truck traffic, Bodner said.

"It’s going to be another busy year," said Dick Fosbury, whose firm, Galena Engineering, has conducted various traffic studies in the valley.

Luckily, there will be no major subdivisions being developed in the valley this summer and only a minor project planned for State Highway 75 by the Idaho Transportation Department.

The ITD project will consist of overlay on a stretch of highway between Bellevue and Hailey.

"It will be a fairly short-lived, three-to-four-week project," said Devin Rigby, an ITD district engineer.

That overlay project will be similar to the one completed last fall between Ketchum and Hailey.

"We will work through any conflicts with truck movements," Rigby said.

Real work on the highway will not begin until next summer, he added. Then, bridge work and highway widening, together with other construction projects, will likely snarl valley traffic like it’s never been snarled before.

"Next year, it’s going to be a major issue," Rigby said.


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