Stimulus Money Fuels Highway Projects in Eastern Idaho
Two recently completed eastern Idaho highway construction projects, one on Idaho 48 in Rigby and the other on U.S. 20 near Henry’s Lake, are the first of 16 Idaho projects to use federal stimulus funds, according Idaho Transportation Dept. District 6 Manager Bruce King.
The total cost of both projects was more than $5 million. In 2009, Idaho received $182 million for highway construction in stimulus funds.
In December, crews from HK Contractors of Idaho Falls completed work on a 1.7 mile stretch of Idaho 48 through Rigby. In October, crews from Blackfoot, Idaho’s Gale Lim Construction finished construction of U.S. 20’s northbound passing lanes between Island Park Lodge and Red Rock Road and the southbound passing lanes between the Henry’s Fork Outlet bridge and Idaho 87.
The Idaho 48 project created or maintained more than 50 jobs while the U.S. 20 project to the north provided more than 40.
As the main east-west artery through Rigby, Idaho 48 connects the population centers on both sides of the Yellowstone Highway (U.S. 20). Improving the corridor will help ease the area’s growing traffic issues, especially at the access road to Rigby High School.
The statewide projects are among 16 construction sites on Idaho highways funded through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.
The four-month construction project on Idaho 48 improved traffic safety and flow on the main artery between Rigby High School and U.S. 20.
HK Contractors Superintendent Leon Pack said there were many surprises on the project. “It seemed like we had something come up every day whether it was a utility concern or just traffic issues,” Pack says. “There was a lot of multi-tasking being done to keep the project moving.”
In the spring, crews will finish the project by seeding and sodding highway shoulders, seal-coating the new roadway and painting yellow centerlines and white edge stripes as well as applying other pavement markings. Jefferson County Joint School District 251 Superintendent, Dr. Ron Tolman says, “Now that the project is complete, it is a joy to watch the smoother traffic transitions around the high school. The road seems much safer and easier for folks to negotiate.”
To the North on the Caldera
Running 100 miles between Idaho Falls and the Montana state line, U.S. 20 is the main north-south artery in eastern Idaho. Construction on the 6.5-mile stretch of highway near Island Park will improve traffic safety and flow along a busy section of the corridor.
Between Island Park Lodge and Red Rock Road, crews constructed northbound passing lanes and between the Henry’s Fork Outlet bridge and the junction of Idaho 87 they constructed southbound passing lanes Construction on this project began at the end of July and was completed in October.
ITD’s King says the fact they were completed using stimulus money was a plus. “These were projects that the department had wanted to complete for some time, and when the money became available, they were already in the planning stages so we could roll them out quickly,” he says.