May 2023 file photo
IDAHO FALLS — Driving through Idaho Falls has been a little tricky lately.
Orange cones and pylons dot the city’s roads and intersections due to dozens of construction projects happening simultaneously. The projects range from street paving and improvement projects to sewer and water line repairs, installations or a variety of other issues, according to the interactive construction map on the city’s website.
Public Works spokeswoman Kerry Hammon tells EastIdahoNews.com the department provides specific details about each project and a daily update on their progress.
Many of these projects seemed to happen all at once with little or no warning. One reason for that, according to Hammon, is because some of the construction is not being led by the city. Some of it, such as the road work on Broadway and Yellowstone Highway, is being handled by the Idaho Transportation Department.
“Even though Yellowstone and Broadway run through the city of Idaho Falls, they’re state highways. All the construction being done on those two roads is ITD’s responsibility,” Hammon explains.
ITD alerts the public about construction projects through its website.
The construction on Yellowstone and Broadway is an asphalt paving project, according to an informational sheet provided by ITD. A similar project is happening on Lincoln and Anderson. There are three additional ITD projects happening in Idaho Falls. A micro seal project on Yellowstone and Holmes was scheduled to wrap up Thursday. Projects on Science Center Drive and Sunnyside Road are slated for completion on October 2 and September 1, respectively.
Though ITD coordinates with the city on scheduling road work, ITD spokeswoman Brenda Elordi says there is some overlap on timing.
“We don’t stagger our projects. If they (the city) need to do something, they just do it whenever they need to do it. It’s the same with us. When we have the funding available … we get the green light and we go,” Elordi says.
Many of these projects, like the Sunnyside Road construction, were supposed to happen sooner but were delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. Elordi says weather factors played a role in some of the delays. Others had to do with funding not being available.
In response, ITD is working “as many night projects as (it) can to put less impact on the public.”
In certain cases, Hammon says the city deliberately holds off on some projects until after a major holiday.
“There are some projects that we purposely wait until after the fourth of July to do because we know it will have a significant impact,” says Hammon.
One project significantly affecting traffic flow is the Rollandet and 17th median installation, as well as the relocation of a gas line on Pancheri Drive. Both of them got underway in May. The map on the city’s website indicates the Pancheri Drive project was supposed to be finished on Friday. No end date is specified for 17th and Rollandet.
Another intersection causing traffic delays is Woodruff and 17th Street. It’s been blocked off since April as crews work to add another lane and a right turn lane on each intersection, along with updating the waterline, curb, gutter, landscaping and traffic signal.
“Idaho Falls Power will remove power poles and run existing fiber and power underground. When complete, the intersection will look and function much like the intersection at Sunnyside Road and Hitt Road,” the city’s website says about the project.
This photo from May shows the construction project on Woodruff in Idaho Falls blocking the main entrance for several businesses in the area. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com
Hammon says multiple public meetings about this project were held in 2018. Construction was originally supposed to happen last year, but it was delayed because contractors did not bid on it.
Construction is slated for completion this fall, but Hammon says it’s difficult to give an exact date.
“There’s a lot of coordination that goes on when it comes to construction, but there are also a lot of unforeseen circumstances that we have no control over,” she says.
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She doesn’t anticipate any future delays occurring. Updates are provided at a public meeting every Wednesday at 10 a.m. behind Chevron on Woodruff and 17th.
Though construction work often diverts traffic, Hammon says the city makes every effort to ensure the public still has access to entrances and parking near businesses. She encourages people to continue to support business owners, even if it’s a little tricky to get there.
This map shows where patrons can enter the Woodruff strip during construction. | Alex Lemoing, EastIdahoNews.com
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