lends a hand to complete
After more than a year and a half of construction, the new Middleton Road Bridges over the Boise River in Canyon County were nearly complete Monday, with only one last item to check off the list: The construction crews youngest member, 5-year-old Mitchell Irby, had to make a permanent impression on the project .
At the dedication ceremony for the $2.6 million project, the crews buddy, as Mitchell affectionately became known, was given the honor of leaving his mark on the sidewalk, something usually considered a no-no a handprint in wet cement.
Mitchell was an inspiration to all of us on the project. He is the future of this state and it made us understand what a lot of hard work was going to do, said Emmett Moore, an ITD inspector on the project.
He lifted our spirits with his smiling face and happy disposition. His mother also deserves recognition; she was the one who let him have the window down in some not-so-kind weather conditions.
Twice each day, Joni Irby drove her son through the project, to and from his day-care. Each day Mitchell grew more and more friendly with the workers, ultimately becoming the projects unofficial mascot.
At the ceremony, the Irbys sat on stage alongside other guests of honor, including Transportation Board Chairman Chuck Winder, Middleton Mayor Frank McKeever and Canyon Highway District chairman Ralph Little.
The project replaced two aging bridges built in the 1950s. Those bridges replaced a one way high-steel span bridge built in 1905, which met its demise in 1952 when a beer delivery truck struck a support post in the middle of the bridge. According to Middleton lore, volunteers to retrieve the spilled cargo were plentiful.
In the early days, a ferry service was attempted numerous times at the current bridge site, but the river channel changed so often it was difficult to maintain a stable location.
In 1869, a permanent Middleton Ferry was constructed three miles west of Middleton on the route to Caldwell in the canyon where the river bends. This is where Canyon County gets its name. It was located in the canyon because the rock walls allowed for permanent docking structures.
The ferry remained until 1883 when the railroad bridge was built; a wagon bridge was added later.