Wednesday, October 20, 2021
48.0°F

Asphalt projects, road closures & other details

by STEVE KLATT Contributing Writer
| October 5, 2021 1:00 AM

The Bonner County Road Department is beginning to wrap up another construction season that has been both busy and productive.

There is just never enough money to do all that needs to be done, but the State of Idaho shared surplus eliminator funds that we applied directly into asphalt to pave portions of North Boyer, Eastriver Road, Heath Lake Road and Woodland Drive. We also applied these funds to initiate a repair project on Old Priest River Road. We also finished our BST project on tying together Lakeshore Drive and Dufort Road.

Another project that was completed this summer to the consternation of local residents, was the closure of the Heath Lake Road – Highway 95 intersection at the request of Burlington Northern Railroad. Our summer chip seal program treating approximately 20% of our paved roads was finished more rapidly than in past years. The mag chloride dust abatement treatment of last spring had a tough summer with our unusually dry and hot weather – it holds up best when we receive occasional rains to renew the mag.

Bonner County has just adopted our budget for next year and although there will be a tax increase, the road budget will remain quite static. The commissioners were faced with some tough choices and the Road Department endorses the methods they use to make their choices, but it is tough to chew on the frustration of seeing our roads budget constricted when there are numerous projects this department would like to start on. There is a reasonable expectation that local roads will receive another portion of Idaho surplus eliminator in the coming year and that will likely help us have funds to schedule several more paving projects not now in our program for 2022.

The Sunnyside Road has long been a management quagmire for Bonner County with a number of sections of undefined rights of way. I have been working with property owners trying to find common ground for road definition rather than having multiple conversations with multiple attorneys and ending up in a courtroom. Summer recreation use of the Sunnyside area has begun to cause many more issues of congestion, parking and significant inconvenience to residents that need resolution. Coupling overuse with the management issues of a flat gravel road with inadequate drainage in all seasons has focused quite a chunk of my time on that road.

Folks, it has been an interesting job working with Bonner County Road & Bridge and really an honor to work with the many first rate guys of this department that I have both affection and respect for. I feel we have made some progress in a number of areas, but am disappointed to be leaving quite so many loose ends for my successor, Jason Topp, to ravel together. I retired at the end of September and want to thank many of you in the county for your interest, ideas and support, although I was given some opinions that I really could never agree with. Our local roads continue to improve and that is the way it should be.