It’s roadwork season again. So what can you expect to see as you’re driving around the Idaho Falls area?
Some Idaho Falls city projects have already started. Last week crews started work on replacing the West Broadway sidewalk downtown, between Memorial Drive and North Yellowstone Avenue. The project, which is being funded by the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency and the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation, includes replacing the curb, gutter, sidewalks, flower planter boxes and trees and is expected to be done in mid-June.
While the road is expected to stay open to vehicles for most of the project, one lane on West Broadway and Park Avenue from A Street south of the railroad may be closed during non-peak times to facilitate construction. Pedestrian access also may be restricted, although only one side of West Broadway will be restricted at any given time, city officials said in a news release.
Another downtown project, the $180,000 city-funded replacement of a water line on Park Avenue, also is expected to be done by mid-June. Park Avenue will be closed between Constitution Way and D Street for the duration of the project.
And another city project that is scheduled to start Tuesday morning is the installation of a water main at Science Center Drive between the Highway 20 exit ramp and North Boulevard. No water service interruptions are expected, but eastbound traffic will be reduced to a single lane through the construction zone according to a city Water Division news release, and motorists should expect delays and are encouraged to use alternate routes. Construction is expected to be done by May 24. Drivers are asked to slow down, obey traffic control signs and watch for construction crews.
The city has an interactive map of this summer’s planned construction projects on its website. Some of the bigger ones that will be noticeable to motorists include:
— A $1.49 million city-funded project to replace a 70-year-old water line running along East 1st Street, including reconstructing the street and replacing the storm drain. Work is scheduled to start in June and take 50 days, and East 1st will be closed between Lomax Street and St. Clair Road while the work is being done.
— A $694,000 city-funded chip sealing project. Most of the work will be in the neighborhood south of West Anderson Street and north of West Elva Street, although a few streets in other parts of the city are included, including stretches of East Sixth, Seventh and 25th streets. Work is scheduled to begin in July and take a month, and some roads will be reduced to one lane or closed during construction.
— Surface sealing on some streets scattered throughout the city, including Snake River Parkway, much of West Sunnyside Road, and East Fifth, Ninth, 10th and 12th streets between South Boulevard and South Holmes Avenue. Work is planned for August and September, and some of these roads may be reduced to one lane during construction.
— A $330,000, federally funded project to install retroreflective backplates on numerous traffic signals throughout the city, increasing their visibility in the hopes of reducing crashes. This will be done in July and August.
Next year, look for some changes to the intersection of Rollandet and West 17th Street. The city plans to add left turn lanes off of 17th onto Rollandet in 2020-21, city Engineer Kent Fugal said in April.
Many of that area’s residents will welcome the changes.
“(Living on 17th) is pretty tolerable but some of the backyard alleys and driveways attached to the road can be pretty bad,” said resident Kevin Hardy, who wondered if all the traffic leads to people being more stressed than in other parts of the city. “You can sometimes have kids on bikes or people walking and people will zip on by going 40 (mph) or over.”
Fugal said that once the project is complete drivers will be able to make right turns off and on to 17th and lefts turns off 17th. But they won’t be able to turn left from 17th onto Rollandet.
“Anytime something happens along 17th Street, we’re looking for those opportunities to combine access points and reduce the number of driveway approaches we have,” Fugal said.
Idaho Transportation Department
Several major state-run highway projects are in the planning stages now but aren’t expected to begin this year. One big one is the Interstate-15/U.S. 20 connector project. This project, which is still in the study phase and is not expected to start this year, aims to make some improvements to reduce congestion at the interchange, said Idaho Transportation Department spokeswoman Megan Stark.
If you want to learn more about this, ITD is hosting two public meetings Thursday at the Shilo Inn Conference Center, 780 Lindsay Boulevard, Idaho Falls. The first will run from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., the second from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. More information is available online at i15us20connector.com. This project has been in the works for a while — ITD held two public meetings on it in 2018 — and ITD staff are considering 10 different options they plan to present at Thursday’s meeting.
Other highway projects ITD expects to do in the next few years, Stark said, include:
— Repaving parts of U.S. 30 in Caribou and Bear Lake counties next year
— Replacing a couple of the Inkom bridges on I-15 and making some improvements to Pocatello Avenue and the I-86 business loop in American Falls in 2021, and
— Making some improvements to the I-15 Northgate Interchange in Bannock County and reconstructing U.S. 20 from Targhee Pass to Montana, both of which are still being planned and expected to start in 2022.
Projects ITD plans for this year include the reconstruction of the southbound lanes of I-15 between Dubois and Spencer and repaving part of I-15 between Pocatello and Fort Hall.
Expect some utility work this construction season along Lincoln Road, from roughly the sheriff’s annex to 45th East, said Bonneville County Public Works Director Lance Bates. He said crews will also be doing some preliminary work at the corner of 1st and 45th.
Other than some routine chip sealing, crews also will be rehabilitating the asphalt on 45th West between 65th South and 49th South. Bates said that project likely won’t take long, and it remains to be determined whether the road will be kept open or closed while the work is being done.
And, the county is collaborating with federal agencies to pave Bear Creek Road in Swan Valley from under the Palisades Dan to the Calamity Campground boat ramp.
Editor's note: This article has been corrected to state that the West Broadway sidewalk project is being paid for by the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency and the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation.