If Labor Day weekend plans include travel on Idaho 55, ITD strongly advises avoiding the heaviest traffic by traveling outside the peak travel times and/or using alternate routes on the return trip.
Flaggers at the highway’s intersection with the Banks-to-Lowman highway also will assist in making a smoother trip. Motorists can expect delays of 15 minutes or longer at the flagging operation.
All ITD construction and maintenance projects on state highways will be suspended during the holiday weekend but will resume Tuesday (Sept. 8).
During holiday weekends, traffic volumes skyrocket on both Idaho 55 south and on old Highway 17 (the Banks-to-Lowman Road) from Garden Valley heading toward the junction.
Idaho 55 saw about 9,300 southbound vehicles on the 2009 Fourth of July weekend, and about 3,000 vehicles headed to the old Highway 17 (Banks-to-Lowman highway)/Idaho 55 junction from Garden Valley.
Since 1995, ITD has assisted motorists over the longer Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day holiday weekends at the heavily used junction of Idaho 55 and the Banks-to-Lowman Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway.
Travelers will see message boards in that area along with flaggers, which will help move the traffic along smoothly on Monday (Sept. 7) starting at 10 a.m. Flaggers will remain in place until traffic lessens and they are no longer required.
An Incident Response vehicle also will be stationed near the junction.
"Congestion is heaviest in this area, as travelers from the Garden Valley area access Idaho 55," said ITD Maintenance Engineer Gary Moles. "We want everyone to have a safe and fun weekend."
The transportation department offers the following tips for holiday weekend travelers:
Congestion is heaviest on the last evening of the holiday weekend, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Consider returning from your trip before or after that time to avoid the rush.Consider using an alternate route. To use U.S. 95, travel north on Idaho 55 from McCall to New Meadows, take U.S. 95 south and use Interstate 84 to return to the Treasure Valley. This route may take less time than using Idaho 55 on a congested day. Recreationists leaving the Garden Valley area may want to use Idaho 21 to return to the Treasure Valley.
If you choose to use Idaho 55 when congestion is heaviest, be patient and plan an extra hour or two for your return trip.
Your greatest holiday safety tips are to refrain from driving after drinking alcohol and ensuring everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seatbelt.