Popular lakeside road in CDA transfers to locals

On March 22, the ITD board approved an agreement to transfer Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive to local jurisdictions, improving service of the 5.6-mile route for its users and resolving an operations issue that has persisted for years. CDA Lake Drive, which includes a paved path, is part of the Centennial Trail that originates at the state's border with Washington. 

The agreements, signed by the city of Coeur d’Alene and the East Side Highway District in January, allow the lakeside route—which operated as US-10 until the completion of Interstate 90 in the 1990s—to be treated as what it is now: a local road and a recreational corridor. 

The road connects residents and tourists to regional routes and terminates at Higgens Point, never connecting with another highway. Few drivers use this non-commerce route, meaning operations crews typically tend to other routes, such as Interstate 90, before seeing to the old highway.

Over the years, the road essentially became an isolated spur to maintain, diverting department resources from primary transportation routes. As other routes demanded more attention, the condition of the road slipped below operational—but not safety—standards, and the department sought a nearby entity that could be more responsive to the community’s needs and provide a higher level of service at a lower cost.

“The highway district told me that their trucks routinely travel on its snowy surface with their plows up to reach other roads they have responsibility for,” said Ben Ward, an ITD engineer who helped secure the transition. “It was logical to transfer this section to the highway district, rather than force commuters on this route to wait for delayed service from ITD plows.”
Earlier attempts to transfer responsibility were unsuccessful, despite the department’s desire to reduce low-priority sections of the system and the receptiveness of local officials to tackle the problem.

The road extends beyond city limits and raised issues with annexation during negotiations in 2013. In 2014, the department brought on Welch Comer Engineers to work with stakeholders, including the appropriate highway district, to develop a master plan for the corridor and to catalogue necessary costs to transfer the road. ITD held a public hearing in May 2016 to gather input on the future of the corridor.

Per the findings of the 2014 taskforce, the East Side Highway District will receive $2.7 million to maintain 4.3 miles, and the city of Coeur d’Alene will receive $840,000 to maintain the remaining 1.3 miles within city limits.

These one-time lump sum funds will help restore the roadway surface, update signage, and maintain the road for more than 30 years.

As part of the negotiating process, ITD agreed to retain responsibility for riskier sections of the road, including maintenance of the old Potlatch Hill Bridge and a slide area nearby.

“This was a years-long process of teamwork and compromise,” Ward said. “Ultimately, this is a big win for not only our users but also our department.”

Published 03-30-18