Most highway construction to take break for holiday

Work will be suspended on all ITD highway construction projects statewide for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, except in special circumstances. In most cases, work will resume Tuesday (July 6).

ITD requires contractors on highway construction projects to suspend work on any roadway open to the traveling public during the holiday, except for normal maintenance operations. That includes any day of a three-day holiday weekend or July 3-5, unless otherwise permitted.

Some of those rare conditions in which work may continue are:

  • If crews are not working on roadway open to the public,
  • If the road is already closed and all traffic is using a designated detour,
  • In an emergency situation (like flooding) where the roadway has been damaged and requires repair, or
  • On roads with very low traffic volumes

"The contractor is just like anybody else, and has no interest in working over the holiday," said ITD Chief Engineer Tom Cole. "Most would probably take these days off even if it was not required to keep the road open to travelers."

If Fourth of July weekend plans include travel on Idaho 55, ITD asks motorists to avoid the heaviest traffic by traveling outside peak travel times or by using alternate routes. ITD again will provide flaggers to help traffic flow.
Since 1995, ITD has assisted motorists over the longer Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day holiday weekends at the heavily used intersection of Idaho 55 and the Banks-to-Lowman Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway.
Travelers will see electronic message boards in that area along with flaggers to help traffic move smoothly on Monday (July 5) starting at 10 a.m. Flaggers will remain in place until no longer required.

An Incident Response vehicle also will be on hand.

"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."

During holiday weekends about three times the amount of traffic travels on those roads as compared to the average day. On Fourth of July last year, more than 3,000 vehicles traveled the Banks-to-Lowman road (versus 1,500 average) and nearly 9,300 were southbound on Idaho 55 (vs. 2,800 average).
That's about three times as much traffic on Idaho 55, compared to the Banks-to-Lowman highway, so the flaggers maintain that same 3:1 ratio in terms of cycle length. Idaho 55 traffic will be uninterrupted for 15 minutes, and then stopped for five minutes to allow traffic to enter from the Banks-to-Lowman highway.

All ITD projects will be suspended during the holiday and many will resume July 6. 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 this time to avoid the rush.
  • Consider using an alternate route. To use U.S. 95, travel north on Idaho 55 from McCall, 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.

Published 7-2-2010