ITD using unique method to prepared for rising water

Rapid warming usually comes as good news in almost every regard for the travelers who’ve been cooped up inside all winter … but not always. As temperatures warm, the winter snowpack thaws and spring rains arrive, escalating the potential for flooding across the state. ITD’s District 3, along with most other districts, already is preparing for the rushing runoff.

After last spring’s massive flooding, local maintenance crews stockpiled more than 1,000 sandbags to fill when the expectant floods arrive.

They also have improved on the speed of filling the bags. One shovel full of sand at a time is a thing of the past – they now can fill 10 bags in the time they used to fill one.

“We can actually remove part of the sand spreader on a sanding truck and fill sandbags to speed up that process,” said Dan Bryant, maintenance supervisor for the region. Bryant also thinks the district shop could build an adapter that would improve on that method and be even faster.

ITD also can call on the Idaho National Guard for assistance with sandbags in dire situations. “They can give us a truckload in very short order,” Bryant said.

In addition, crews have begun working to improve drainage in the flatter parts of Ada and Canyon counties to prevent flooding.

Scorpion Creek near Murphy on Idaho 78 flooded a few years ago, the result of a culvert being overwhelmed with water. Preparations are under way to replace the multiple-culvert crossing with a bridge to better handle a high-water event.

To address a flooding issue on Idaho 55 north of Smith's Ferry, ITD cleaned out a channel and added a culvert. The department’s Special Crew removed a logjam on the East Fork of the Weiser River north of Council earlier this year. The logjam was a result of last year’s sudden runoff. Left as it was, the logjam probably would have plugged the culvert and threatened U.S. 95.

Last spring, roads throughout the southwest region of the state flooded:

  • Idaho 71 near Brownlee Creek in Cambridge,
  • U.S. 95 in Weiser and at Goose Creek Grade in New Meadows,
  • Idaho 55 in Horseshoe Bend,
  • Idaho 52 between Horseshoe Bend at Emmett, and
  • Idaho 21 in the Canyon Creek area.
Photo: District 3 crews use a sanding truck atachment similar to the one shown above from D-1, to fill sandbags much faster than with conventional shovels.


Published 4-8-2011