Cove Road reconstruction marks new progress on repairs that date back to 2017

Work on Cove Road south of Idaho began Monday, Oct. 8.

GRANGEVILLE — Four of 13 road repair projects Idaho County put forward for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) funding after the spring flooding of 2017 have so far been completed. Two more are scheduled for construction work this month.

Idaho County has requested approximately $6.8 million in state and federal disaster management funding in connection with the 13 projects, and about $2.2 million has been awarded so far.

The long-sought Cove Road reconstruction is set to begin south of Mt. Idaho on Monday, Oct. 8, and a contract has been awarded for the Village 21 culvert replacement north of Kamiah.

The Cove Road repair will take several weeks and the Idaho County Road & Bridge Department is asking travelers to be aware the work involves traffic delays of up to a half-hour at a time.

Four FEMA projects have been completed: Cedar Creek Road, Cottonwood Creek Road, Maxwell Lane and Fort Misery Road.

Seven other projects that arose from the 2017 disaster declaration – four funded by FEMA and three funded under the state’s ERF (emergency relief fund) – are still under study. Eligible for FEMA funding is a project on Adams Grade Road, two projects on Lukes Gulch Road and a rebuild of Big Cedar Road that could cost as much as $2.5 million. Eligible for ERF are projects on Carrot Ridge Road, Glenwood Road and a third site on Lukes Gulch Road.

The county expects to realize about $94,000 cost savings on the Cottonwood Creek Road and Maxwell Lane projects, so the county may seek FEMA help on a second Carrot Ridge Road project, Idaho County disaster management coordinator Jerry Zumalt told the Free Press Wednesday, Oct. 3.

“We were able to save quite a bit of money – save meaning, it didn’t cost us as much as the legitimate estimates,” Zumalt said. “The contractors were hungry last winter and went after those projects and got them done. They’ve billed us, they’re completed and there’s still $94,000 sitting on the table for engineering cost, design work, project management and construction. If that will address this second Carrot Ridge site, then we’ll go after it.”

The county could realize cost savings of as much as $130,000 on the Village 21 culvert repair, Zumalt said.

“Those are dollars that would stay in state coffers,” he said. “We’d hope to see them used for a project locally, but it would be based on the state’s priorities. And it should be that way, because those are dollars provided by the state taxpayer.”

During the nearly 18 months since the disaster was declared, the main hold-up the county has seen while pursuing this funding came about when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico – which Zumalt said took up FEMA’s full attention.

“But when the federal guys got back from the hurricane, they’ve been good to work with,” Zumalt said, “and we’ve had good support from the state.”

The disaster dollars flow through the Idaho County Road & Bridge department budget. With totals of nearly $8.4 million this year and $7.8 million last year, the road and bridge department line has been Idaho County’s biggest budget the past two years.

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