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ITD set to start bridge, path repairs

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | May 9, 2021 1:00 AM

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Repairs to a retaining wall at the south end of the Long Bridge are set to start Monday, according to Idaho Transportation Department officials.

That means a portion of the pedestrian path — the section connecting the west side of the highway to the pedestrian bridge on its east side will be closed for up to two months.

The work is part of overall repairs to the U.S. 95 Long Bridge and its companion pedestrian bridge, Megan Jahns, ITD public information officer, said.

With work already scheduled for the two bridges, it made sense to add repairs to the retaining wall to the project since crews were already going to be on site.

The wall, which was damaged by wave action in 2020, was starting to collapse and is essentially having to be rebuilt. Jahns said crews will have to dig down, add additional rocks at the bottom to improve drainage, before addition another layer to the wall to widen it and make it sturdier.

"It was good timing, that we were able to add it to the project," Jahns said. "We're grateful that the contractor was willing to take that extra work on because it's a different type of work, too."

While necessary, Jahns said repairs to the retaining wall won't add to the overall length of the project and is not expected to add significantly to the overall cost of the project.

Repairs to the vehicle and pedestrian bridges on U.S. 95 are meant to extend the service life of the spans. And while the $9.7 million project is scheduled to last two years, Jahns said the contractor — McMillen Jacobs Associates — is hoping to complete the work in one.

"Really, we're just trying to keep them in as good of shape as possible," Jahns said. "We don't want to have to replace them any sooner than we have to."

While much of the work has been taking place underneath the spans, and hasn't impacted traffic, that's likely to change in the next month or two.

Jahns said work on the top part of the pedestrian bridge is expected to begin in early June and take about two-and-a-half months. The usable width of the bridge will be reducing, giving crews space to work but allowing pedestrians to still walk across.

Work on the vehicle bridge, built in 1981, is expected to begin in late July. While much of the work will be done on weekdays and at night and limited to one lane at a time, "that's when you'll start to see us impacting traffic," Jahns said.

"I guess the big takeaway is we're working really hard to minimize the impacts that people are going to see," she added.

As part of the project, expansion joints on the vehicle bridge, which helps the structure adjust to changing temperatures, are being replaced. Supporting structure beneath the bridge deck will also be repaired. In addition, a protective coating will be applied to the bridge's guardrail, Jahns said.

Navigation lights beneath both bridges will be replaced with more energy-efficient lamps that will require less maintenance.

On the pedestrian bridge, built in 1956, portions of the walking surface will be replaced and joints connecting different the sections will be replaced with ones that are flush with bridge deck, making them easier to walk across and less of a trip hazard, Jahns said.

The state spent $2 million in 2016 to re-seal the deck of the vehicle bridge and repair supporting structures. The upcoming repairs are the result of a 2018 study that identified maintenance items to be addressed to allow both structures to reach 100 years in service, according to ITD.

Caroline Lobsinger can be reached by email at clobsinger@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @CarolDailyBee.