Saturday, June 15, 2024
44.0°F

Rebuilding bridges

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Hagadone News Network | July 31, 2022 1:08 AM

COEUR d'ALENE — Work on an area bridges and several child pedestrian paths could be funded as part of Gov. Brad Little's "Leading Idaho" plan.

Projects in Kootenai County range from a bridge over the Coeur d'Alene River in the East Side Highway District to a number of child pedestrian safety projects in Rathdrum, Coeur d'Alene, Dalton Gardens and Hayden Lake.

Improvements to local bridges and child pedestrian paths across Idaho were announced after the state approved prioritization for two parts of the plan this past week. The Local Highway Technical Assistance Council and the Idaho Transportation Board approved the rankings this week for Leading Idaho local bridge funding as well as child pedestrian crossing funding.

“The local bridge and child pedestrian crossing investments help us keep up with growth and improve the economy and Idahoans’ safety and quality of life. They also potentially could keep your property taxes low. As local governments develop their budgets this summer and fall, they may not have to call on local property taxpayers to fill these important needs because state support helps offset the burden,” Governor Little said.

Governor Little and the Legislature approved up to $200 million in surplus FY22 funds for the Leading Idaho local bridge program. It was part of a historic transportation investment package that did not require any increase in taxes or fees. The funds will be used to clear approximately one-third of the backlog of local bridges that are in poor condition or are load restricted.

The state’s goal is to have all projects awarded with this funding complete or in construction within the next three years, with construction on some bridges starting this year.

The bridge improvements target important crossings used to access farmland, natural resources, or recreational areas — often with no reasonable alternative route or detour. At the beginning of the year, 428 local bridges were identified as being in poor condition or posted for load restrictions. The LHTAC anticipates more structures to reach this condition in the coming years. Nearly 40 percent of local Idaho bridges are more than 50 years old, the designed life span for most bridges.

LHTAC anticipates that available funding will cover the top 130 to 140 ranked bridges.

The Springston Bridge, located near Harrison, was ranked No. 73 on the state's list of bridges needing attention. In Benewah County, the bridges over Smith Creek and Hangman Creek, both in the Sanders Road area, are ranked No. 14 and No. 15 respectively.

In Shoshone County, a number of bridges are ranked among those which are anticipated to receive work. They include the Elk Creek trestle bridge on Potlatch Road, No. 17; the Coeur d'Alene River bridge in the city of Mullan, No. 22; the Bullion Creek bridge in the Moon Pass area, No. 23; the Osburn bridge, No. 30; the Kellogg bridge, No. 38; the Two Mile Creek bridge, No. 65; and the Gem Bridge in the city of Kellogg, No. 92.

In addition, LHTAC and Idaho Transportation Board approved rankings for projects that improve pedestrian crossings used by children, such as school crossings or safe routes to schools. The Idaho Legislature approved an additional $10 million in one-time surplus FY22 funds for the crossings as part of the Governor’s Leading Idaho plan.

The funding will support 45 projects across the state. Most will receive the full amount available, with a maximum of $250,000 per application.

Among projects in Kootenai County which qualified are a pathway in Rathdrum, which received $150,000 of the $154,000 requested; and a pathway and crossing in Coeur d'Alene, which received $250,000 of the requested $300,000 requested. Also scoring high enough to receive funding are a beacon and sidewalk project in Dalton Gardens, which received all of its $150,000 request; and a sidewalk and flashing beacon project in Hayden Lake, which received $250,000 of the $400,000 requested.

In Shoshone County, Pinehurst received all of its $250,000 request for a sidewalk project, and Smelterville received $250,000 for its sidewalk project.