COEUR d'ALENE Financial relief to reduce congestion and improve safety along U.S. 95 from Coeur d'Alene to the Highway 53 junction is finally on its way.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $5.1 million grant to the Idaho Transportation Department to improve signalization, eliminate cross-street entrances and exits for safety and turning modifications in the 8.4-mile corridor.
"It will enable a much-needed improvement for the increase of movement and assurance of continued safe travel in this highly-congested portion of the U.S. 95 corridor and the surrounding area," said ITD District 1 Business Operations Manager Scotty Fellom.
The U.S. 95 access improvements project was one of 18 projects selected nationwide to receive funding from more than 200 submissions.
The average weekday volume of traffic in the U.S. 95 corridor is 34,500 vehicles per day. The volume is projected to be 49,000 in 2035.
The funding is pending, and congressional approval is expected in the next 60 days. Public hearings will be held before specific improvements will be made, Fellom said.
Fellom said the improvements are expected to be made over two construction seasons starting in early 2018 and ending in 2019. The grant requires the improvements to be made by July 31, 2019.
The total estimated cost for the improvements is $8.5 million.
Besides the grant, other funding sources include: ITD, $1.7 million; Idaho gas tax revenue, $850,000; city of Coeur d'Alene, $672,300; and city of Hayden, $177,700.
Glenn Miles, executive director of the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization, applied for the grant in April.
"This series of projects are essential to the long-term viability of the U.S. 95 corridor providing access and mobility for freight, commerce, economic development and the citizens of this region," Miles said.
Projects to be funded were adopted by both the KMPO and ITD in December 2008.
Recommendations from a 2006 study that led to those actions include:
Installing traffic signals at Miles, Wyoming, Wilbur and Lancaster
Removing signals and installing traffic restrictions at Bosanko and Canfield
Adding right-turn lanes and adding a southbound left-turn lane at Prairie
Adding east-and westbound right-turn lanes and a second southbound left-turn lane at Kathleen
Adding an eastbound right-turn lane and a second through lane at Hayden
Adding an eastbound right-turn lane and a second northbound left-turn lane at Honeysuckle
Converting the westbound right-turn to a through lane and adding an eastbound right-turn lane and a second through lane at Hanley
Adding westbound right-turn lanes at Neider and Dalton
Installing turn restrictions at Orchard, Dakota, Lacey, Cherry, Haycraft, Aqua and Boekel.
"There have been several items already implemented from the plan," Miles said. "This grant is expected to complete the improvements that were approved for implementation."
Fellom said specific improvements will be reviewed by the stakeholder agencies prior to the public input phase.