From the ITD Vault: Mountain Home Underpass (2003)
lTD helps Mountain Home build its future          

The city of Mountain Home has adopted the phrase "Building Toward the Future" as the town's rallying cry to... well, build toward the future.

lTD can take some ownership in being a part of this bustling community's fist major strides into the 21st century by providing a new, modern underpass to carry tomorrow’s traffic. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication is scheduled for 10 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 4.

"The opening of this transportation underpass project is really the opening of the gateway of Mountain Home to build for the future," said Mountain Home Mayor Dave Jett.

Jett will be joined on stage by a host of dignitaries that includes former Mountain Home Mayor Don Etter and Idaho Transportation Board Chairman Charles L. Winder.

The celebration will feature the Mountain Home High School Marching Band and a car parade with vehicles that span the years between completion of the old underpass (see below) and the opening of the new one.

The new underpass (pictured below) replaces a structure that was completed in 1937.

The old underpass was two lanes wide and carried an average of 17,000 cars per day, making it one of Mountain Home's most heavily traveled routes.

"The city had outgrown the old structure. Safety, with regard to larger vehicles traveling through the underpass, was a huge factor," said Sue Gross, Mountain Home Economic Development Coordinator.

"With the new underpass, that dangerous situation no longer exists, plus it's cleaner, it's wider, and it's very attractive."

The old underpass also had drainage problems, which caused it to flood during rainy weather.

"When we would have a significant amount of rain, of course that's where the water went. So it could be a major problem and quite an inconvenience for traffic," said Gross.

The new underpass is four lanes wide with lighted pedestrian walkways. It is located 200 feet to the southeast of where the old underpass was.

The art deco façade of the old underpass was incorporated into the landscaping of a park-like setting, on the western edge of the roadway.

The project, which broke ground on July 17, 2001, cost approximately $18 million.

The contractor, Morgen & Oswood of Great Falls, Mont., is completing the project several months ahead of schedule.

"(The construction) has been difficult for businesses, but they have toughed it out and, in the long run, it has definitely been worth it," said Gross.

"It will definitely benefit Air Base Road. A lot of people will take that drive that wouldn't have over the last couple years. That will pick up as well as downtown. I think for the most part, everyone has been really patient with everything that's gone on, despite the inconvenience."

The original underpass was built by Morrison-Knudsen, the forerunner of Washington Group International. It cost $93,000 and took nine months to construct.

Editor’s 2018 Note:  In the course of replacing the 1937 steel-girder structure, the underpass, from 3rd West to Main Street, was widened from two lanes to four, and most importantly, vertical clearance increased from 14 feet to 16’-11.” The traffic count sits at about 16,000 vehiclesd per day - it dipped significantly in 2008 as gas prices skyrocketed, and has slowly been on the rise since, consistent with traffic counts statewide.

Published 01-12-18