Motorists traveling on U.S. 95 began using a new alignment between Thorncreek Road and the Genesee-Juliaetta junction this week, marking the completion of the first of three major construction projects between Moscow and Lewiston.
Crews finished painting temporary lane stripes on the 7.5-mile segment of U.S. 95 and split northbound and southbound traffic on Tuesday. They anticipated opening the new alignment earlier but the lane striping was delayed by continuous rain.
The new route improves safety by separating south- and northbound traffic and by straightening some of the curves through the rolling agricultural hills. The route is heavily traveled by commuters and agricultural traffic as well as through traffic on Idaho's primary north-south route.
The traffic separation occurs just north of Thorncreek Road; southbound traffic uses the new alignment until about one mile north of the Genesee-Juliaetta junction where it reunites with northbound traffic and becomes a single lane in each direction again.
Crews will apply permanent pavement markers to the section of highway next spring.
The $18 million project began in the spring of 2005 and will meet a similar four-lane divided highway project from Genesee to the top of the Lewiston Hill. That project is expected to be completed in 2007.
A third project also is planned on U.S. 95 between Thorncreek Road and Moscow, but a final decision has not been made on the alignment.
When all three projects are completed, U.S. 95 will be a four-lane divided, limited access highway from Moscow to Lewiston