Sunday, May 28, 2023

ITD crews set to start U.S. 2 project

Staff Writer | May 24, 2023 1:00 AM

Construction will begin May 30, in Sandpoint to widen U.S. 2 south of its interchange with U.S. 95.

Crews will build another lane for southbound traffic between the interchange and the visitor center.

“Adding another lane will make the highway four lanes and consistent with other sections, removing the bottleneck drivers currently experience,” project manager Erica Aamodt said.

The project will also increase the clearance underneath the railroad bridge so taller loads may pass underneath, Aamodt said.

“U.S. 2 serves as an alternate route for U.S. 95, so increasing the clearance to the current standard of 17 feet will allow a greater range of commercial vehicles to pass through without difficulty,” Aamodt said.

Work will take until mid-November to complete. Drivers will be able to pass through the work zone with one lane in each direction but should still plan for congestion.

The project is the latest in a serious of transportation projects in the region.

ITD kicked off a project Monday, May 22, to reconstruct U.S. 95 near McArthur Lake to adjust sharp curves on the roadway.

Plans call for one mile of the highway to be realigned to soften curves and for the small box culvert to be replaced with a longer bridge. Idaho Transportation Department officials said the south end of the bridge will be shifted about 50 feet to the east. Crews also will remove dirt and other material from beneath the bridge to provide better clearance for wildlife passage.

Additionally, more than one-half mile on each side of the highway will be fenced to help funnel wildlife to the bridge for a safe crossing within the project limits.

Safety improvements will take two years to complete, ITD officials said.

Crews also are wrapping up portions of the U.S. 95 project to improve the stretch of roadway from Lakeshore Drive to Sagle Road.

A new signal at U.S. 95 and Sagle Road went live Friday, May 19, and Sagle Road is fully open to traffic. A median U-turn on the highway just north of Bottle Bay road is expected to be done by June.

One lane remains open in each direction and flaggers are intermittently stopping traffic to allow trucks to enter and exist the work zone. A turn lane for Bottle Bay Road remains shorter in length and a detail is in place for path users along county roads, ITD officials said.

The median U-turn gives drivers the ability to either make an immediate left turn onto U.S. 95 from Lakeshore Drive and other nearby roads. They also will be able to turn right, travel downstream and then use the median U-turn to rejoin northbound traffic.

Minor construction is ongoing on U.S. 95 in the Schell Road area, with work expected to wrap on on June 6.

The U-turn is expected to reduce delays for drivers northbound from Lakeshore Drive, as well as reduce the likelihood of near misses at this intersection. As part of the project, crews also added a retaining wall, paved the widened portion of the highway and rebuild the Serenity Lee Trail.

The work is part of a final phase of a project to improve safety on the highway from Lakeshore Drive to Sagle Road.

While U.S. 95 improvements taking place in the Sagle area bring immediate safety and mobility concerns, ITD officials said a long-term study is planned to look at what the highway might look like in the future.

Drivers can download the 511 app or check to stay ahead of traffic impacts on state highways and interstates.

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