One of only 99 left: Roosevelt-era bridge over Weiser River to be replaced starting in March
WEISER - Franklin D. Roosevelt was still early in his presidency in 1935. Babe Ruth played his final pro baseball game — not for the Yankees but for the Boston Braves. Living rooms around the nation were transformed as the world's first television program was broadcast and the board game Monopoly was introduced.
Gasoline cost 19 cents per gallon, a new car cost $580, and the first of more than 100 million vehicle trips was taken across the new two-lane bridge over the Weiser River.
In early March, that 78-year-old bridge south of town will be replaced with a three-lane structure, the Idaho Transportation Department announced. The work should be done by the end of 2013.
The bridge is one of 99 bridges on the state system built before 1936 still in use today. Thirty-seven of those bridges have had some sort of repair or reconstruction in that time, but this bridge has not had any work done.
The existing bridge has 26 feet of drivable width, but the new one will have 48 feet of drivable width. About 7,300 vehicles per day use the bridge.
In addition to replacing the aging bridge, crews will also be reconstructing more than 650 feet of the highway as it ties into the bridge on both the north and south sides of the structure.
The current bridge has a sidewalk and two 13-foot lanes but no shoulders. The new bridge will have two 12-foot lanes and a 12-foot center turn lane.
Pedestrians and cyclists will also feel safer, as the project features a two-foot buffer next to the decorative bridge railing, a five-foot shoulder, and a five-foot sidewalk on the west side. There are no bike lanes.
“The old bridge has lived out its life and needs to be replaced,” said David Barrett, ITD project manager. He also said “The new bridge will also be as much as four feet higher in elevation than the original, which should aid in flood relief. The threat of flood is an annual occurrence each spring for the Weiser River.”
Click here for Barrett's sound bite.
Braun-Jensen, of Payette, is the prime contractor on this $4.8 million project.
Highway construction is one of the key forces pushing Idaho toward continued economic vitality by creating jobs, improving safety and reducing traffic congestion.