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Lakeshore Drive project set to begin soon

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | September 19, 2021 1:00 AM

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As one project is winding down, two others are set to wind up, Idaho Transportation Department officials said.

Work on the Long Bridge pedestrian bridge wrapped up on Sept. 10 and night work on the vehicular bridge was set to wrap up this week.

"Other than that, crews will paint the railing on the pedestrian path underneath the south end of the Long Bridge, which shouldn’t affect access," Megan Jahns, ITD public information officer said. "Then we’ll be all done with the Long Bridge."

As the Long Bridge project winds down, two other projects — improvements at Lakeshore Drive and bumps on several U.S. 95 bridges in the Sandpoint — are set to start, Jahns said.

The first phase of improvements at Lakeshore Drive, are expected to start in late September or early October with work expected to take about two weeks, Jahns said.

The project calls for a combination of acceleration lanes and U-turns. Lakeshore motorists would be routed into southbound traffic but would be able to reverse course safely and in fairly short order via the U-turns.

The first phase would include northbound and southbound acceleration lanes. The second phase, set for the summer of 2022, would include U-turns at Lakeshore Drive and Bottle Bay Road, similar to those already in use in Ponderay.

Also included in the second phase of the project is a light at Sagle Road, which has been referred to as the "only seven-lane roadway" in North Idaho, with two turn lanes, four traffic lanes and a center lane.

"Generally drivers on U.S. 95 can expect to have the same number of lanes, but plans currently call for flaggers to be stationed at Lakeshore Drive," Jahns said. "Our goal is also to keep at least one of the entrances for Smokehouse open at all times."

Work is slated to start Monday to address bumps on U.S. 95 bridges near Sandpoint. Bridges to be repaired are the north end of the Long Bridge, the U.S. 95 bridge over Sand Creek, and the bridge over Bridge Street. Jahns said the bridge for the southbound U.S. 95 off-ramp will not be addressed, and the south end of the Long Bridge will be addressed with the second phase of the Lakeshore Drive improvements.

"These bumps have formed as the approach slabs have settled on the soft soils — note that the bridges themselves aren’t what is sinking," she said.

To fix the bumps, Jahns said crews will remove temporary pavement that has been applied over the years and then drill and inject lightweight foam to lift the approach slabs to their original positions at the same height as the bridges.

Repairs are expected to take three weeks, with crews scheduled to work from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. While crews are working at night, U.S. 95 will be reduced to one lane of traffic. All lanes are expected to be open when crews aren't working, which includes Friday or Saturday nights as well as during city events.

"Besides providing for a safer traveling surface, eliminating the bumps on the Sand Creek Byway opens up the possibility of adjusting the speed limit," Jahns said. "A traffic study in 2019 showed the need to increase the speed limit, but we still need to ensure the success of this repair project and collect input from city officials."

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(Photo courtesy IDAHO TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT)

Work on the Long Bridge pedestrian bridge wrapped up on Sept. 10 and work on the vehicular bridge wrapped up this week. Above, a view of the Long Bridge and pedestrian bridge looking north.