Breaking ground for new access in Idaho Falls
Two groundbreaking ceremonies in Idaho Falls last week required a lot of patience and hard work soil seasoned by several years of drought proved a stubborn adversary. Breaking ground really was more sod-busting that required determination and strong legs.
The projects they helped initiate also are the products of patience and hard work, built on a vision to improve routes that are vital to the regions economy and traveling public.
The morning event on Thursday, June 10, celebrated the launch of new interchanges that will eliminate four at-grade crossings of heavily traveled U.S. 20, improve safety and move traffic more efficiently.
Jeff Miles, transportation director of School District 93 said that his districts buses have waited nearly 10 minutes to cross U.S. 20. The new interchanges will enable buses and other traffic to cross more safely with much shorter delays. In the process, the Tower Road and Telford Road intersections on U.S. 20 will be closed permanently after construction begins.
The $19 million project, which will begin this summer, also will boost the local economy, according to Bonneville County Commissioner Roger Christensen. Western Construction of Boise will build the interchanges.
To accommodate the new structures, U.S. 20 will be elevated and realigned to the northwest. Traffic will continue to use the highway at a reduced speed during construction. Motorists will be unable to access Hitt and St. Leon roads from the highway during interchange construction. Alternate routes to and from Idaho Falls include Ucon Interchange, Idaho 43 to U.S. 26, the Lewisville Interchange and Holmes Avenue.
The groundbreaking was replicated in the afternoon when a crowd gathered again under protection of a canvas canopy to mark the beginning of the $21 million Sunnyside Interchange project.
ITD director Dave Ekern and transportation board chair Charles Winder talked about the collaboration that went into planning the new interchange and the many benefits tangible and intangible that it will deliver. The new structure will link Interstate 15 to Sunnyside Road at Yellowstone Avenue (U.S. 26) and improve access to medical, residential and retail facilities. It will also will open a new door to Idaho Falls and stimulate economic development.
The project will include a new bridge over the Snake River.
Idaho Construction Co. of Kimberly was awarded the three-year
contract that will begin this summer.