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Rapid Lightning Creek bridge project at crossroad

by KEITH KINNAIRD
Hagadone News Network | August 17, 2020 1:05 AM

SANDPOINT — The project is years off, but Bonner County officials want to know what the public thinks about a project to replace one of the bridges across Rapid Lightning Creek.

The county’s compass needle is leaning toward replacing the span in halves, which would allow one-way traffic to cross the creek with the aid of a traffic signal while the new bridge is being built. It’s an arrangement the Idaho Transportation Department utilized on a Highway 41 bridge over railroad tracks in Oldtown.

“That’s the most practical cost-wise by far,” said Road and Bridge Director Steve Klatt.

Although a traffic study has not been done, Klatt estimates the traffic signal would cause a motorist delay of approximately three minutes each time the span is traversed.

The bridge is located east of Sarah Lane, the last of six spans over the meandering creek.

The county is also looking at reconstructing the bridge to the north or south of its present location, which would keep the existing span open for use during construction. However, the costs would escalate by as much as much as 25 percent due to right-of-way acquisition, Klatt said. Moreover, the northern option would require stream-bed alterations which would place the project in a morass of federal permitting.

“Both north and south would bust that budget all to heck,” Klatt said.

The project is being funded through a $1.9 million grant through the state’s Local Highway Technical Assistance Council. The bridge replacement project is at least four years out from construction, which would take place from May through October.

“Our preferred alternative is a slight delay,” Klatt said.

However, the county wants to hear from residents who rely on the span for their commute prior to making a final decision on which approach to take for the replacement project.

“We’re interested in reaching out to people who might be affected up there,” said Klatt. “If there’s something that we’re missing, we would like to know what it is.”

Klatt said the 1970s-era bridge is slated for replacement because of deterioration and creek scouring around the span’s infrastructure.

Those who have remarks about the bridge replacement project are urged to call county Engineer Matt Mulder at 208-255-5681 extension 1 or by sending an email to roads@bonnercountyid.gov.

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Bonner County Road & Bridge officials are seeking public comments on a project to replace an aging span across Rapid Lightning Creek.