Photo by David Rauzi
A fall view along U.S. Highway 12 near Three Rivers Resort at Lowell.
As of Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Construction may begin as early as April on U.S. Highway 12 that will undergo a $17 million transformation to revitalize aging infrastructure and improve safety throughout the corridor.
According to the Idaho Transportation Department, more than 50 miles of the highway between Lowell and the Idaho-Montana border will be repaved, and two bridges—over Maggie and Fish creeks—will be replaced.
“We are excited to have this opportunity to improve the corridor,” said Joe Schacher, ITD manager for the improvements. “Some sections of the highway have deteriorated significantly due to heavy use and harsh weather conditions, and the bridges haven’t received major repairs since they were built in the early 1950s.”
Knife River Corporation will resurface 27 miles between Tumble Creek and Saddle Camp Road and another 23 miles between Warm Springs Pack Bridge and the Montana border. Repaving the highway will cost $13.3 million, Schacher said.
Concrete Placing Company will replace Fish Creek Bridge, and Braun-Jensen Inc. will replace Maggie Creek Bridge for a combined cost of $3.6 million, Schacher said.
Schacher said construction throughout the corridor could begin as early as April and conclude as late as October. Work will be suspended during travel-heavy holidays such as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day to minimize impacts to the traveling public. ITD has also coordinated with the USDA Forest Service to reduce effects to participants in Lochsa Madness and other events.
“US12 is a critical access route for visitors planning a trip to the forest and the many recreation sites the Forest Service has in the Lochsa corridor,” said Jennifer Becar, public affairs specialist for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. “We appreciate the work ITD will be doing to improve access along this route and will be working closely with them to make sure our visitors are aware of upcoming travel impacts.”
Drivers can expect significant delays while traveling through the corridor. Given the number of projects in the area and the limited passing opportunities on the predominately two-lane highway, Schacher said travelers could experience delays upwards of two hours.
“Although it may not be ideal to oversee four different projects in one season, we were able to take advantage of the available funding,” said Doral Hoff, the engineering manager for ITD’s District 2. “The public can be assured that after this construction-intense summer, they won’t see ITD working on the highway for a while.”
A few years after these improvements, contractors will add sealcoats to approximately 60 miles of the highway to protect the new road surface and extend the life of the fresh pavement, but other than that, Hoff said he does not anticipate construction for another two to three years.
As construction nears, the public can find information about specific construction dates through the project website at http://arcg.is/14iHC and by visiting 511.idaho.gov. Travelers can also find construction information through the Montana Department of Transportation’s traveler information webpage at www.mdt511.com.