Board awards bid for Sand Creek Byway project
The Idaho Transportation Board approved a construction bid for the Sand Creek Byway project on June 19, clearing one of the final hurdles for the largest single highway construction contract in ITD’s history. Approval came during the board’s June business meeting in Boise.
Parsons RCI, of Sumner, Wash., is the successful bidder at $98.4 million.
The Sand Creek Byway project has been a contentious issue for the Bonner County community for many years. Building an alternate route on U.S. 95 on the eastern side of Sandpoint has been a topic of local interest since the 1940s. Several ideas have been discussed in the community over the years, but those ideas didn’t progress beyond the drawing board.
That changed in 1990 when ITD began studying the U.S. 95 North/South Alternative Route.
As part of the U.S. 95 North/South study, ITD performed a complete environmental analysis from Sagle to Ponderay as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was completed in 1999 and the Federal Highway Administration issued a Record of Decision (ROD) approving the EIS in 2000.
The Sand Creek Byway is a segment of the U.S. 95 North/South Alternate Route. Washington Group International and CH2M HILL worked with ITD to complete the preliminary and final design of the project.
The design team faced a number of challenges based on the expectations of the community and the regulatory agencies involved. To address these challenges, ITD and the design team engaged the public and agencies early in the process.
ITD also established its first office dedicated solely to public involvement in downtown Sandpoint. The office will continue to be a key component in the public information plan used to communicate and update the public during construction.
The Byway has enjoyed passionate support in the community, but it has also had equally passionate opponents. The U.S. District Court dismissed a lawsuit by the North Idaho Community Action Network (NICAN) earlier this year. NICAN has filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and has asked for an emergency injunction to stop work on the project until the appeal is decided. That action is pending.
In the meantime, plans for construction are moving forward. The contractor is expected to be on site by mid- to late July.
Illustrations: Artistic rendition of beach entrance in Sandpoint (top); depiction of shoreline (bottom-right)