D-3 Highway construction: Best of 209
Saw cutting…hydraulic breaking…pile driving….
Construction trucks and road equipment were visible throughout District 3 in 2009 – from plowing forward in the monumental task of building the second generation of I-84 to resurfacing Idaho Highway 44 (State Street), giving motorists a silky smooth new driving surface.
"It’s been a very busy year,” said Daris Bruce, residency 1 engineer. “We’ve had many major projects under way at the same time, but the busier the better. Our more aggressive construction schedule has allowed us to get a lot done in much shorter periods of time.”
Bruce was at the helm of the State Street/Glenwood project last summer and heads up the ongoing Orchard Street Interchange demolition and rebuild, slated to finish in spring 2010.
“The State Highway 44 project could have taken a lot longer,” he said. “We worked with design on a ‘get in, get out’ schedule.” Aside from rush hours, crews worked nearly every waking minute to wrap the project up before late summer.
To the east of the Orchard interchange is Vista, another bridge along I-84 being replaced. Like Orchard, the new, wider Vista Interchange is needed to accommodate additional four freeway lanes. Vista and Ten Mile will compete to become the state’s first SPUI (Single Point Urban Interchange) - one signal at the center of the interchange controlling all traffic.
Along I-84’s western corridor are a number of bridges that have either already come down and been rebuilt this year, are in the process of being replaced, or are about to get a makeover. Robinson and Black Cat bridges have been rebuilt, Ten Mile is about to be demolished, and the Garrity Interchange bridge is about to come face-to-face with a bulldozer.
“We’ve had so many projects going on at one time that the resident engineers have had to manage projects outside their usual geographical area,“ said Tom Points, residency 2 engineer.
District 3 staff members have worked on a couple of high-profile construction projects, such as replacing the Snake River Bridge on the U.S. 95 Spur in Weiser and rebuilding the Midvale rest area to bring it up to ADA (Americans With Disability Act) standards.
“We demolished all the buildings and put in new parking,” Shawna King, residency 3 engineer said of the Midvale rest area. “We made the restrooms wheelchair-accessible and put in ramps where needed. It’s a brand new rest stop!”
Residency 4 Engineer Jeff Morf helped with the Ten Mile bridge, and has overseen the refurbishing of Main Street in Donnelly. He says the amount of attention being given the Interstate will benefit the state in many ways.
“With the improvements to I-84 there will be a decrease in commute time, decreased maintenance costs, short-term stimulus to the economy with the new construction, and socio-economic benefits equating to millions of dollars per year for Idaho.”
A new third lane has been opened to drivers on I-84 for most of the stretch between Nampa and Meridian. The one-mile area from Black Cat to Ten Mile will remain closed during Ten Mile’s construction, and is due to open next May. A fourth lane on the interstate is expected in 2011.
Photos: Three major structures over Interstate 84 in the Treasure Valleys are being replaced as part of a GARVEE-funded expansion of the highway. Among the large projects are the Orchard Street Bridge (top) and the Vista Avenue Bridge (below).