In early 2018, ITD engineers reached out to the public to discuss a major undertaking for US-12 later that summer: two bridge replacements and 50 miles of paving. Letters and handouts were sent to rafting outfitters, biking groups and trucking organizations--both local and statewide--prior to construction. With delays upwards of two hours anticipated, every effort was made to get the word out early and often. Used by locals and tourists alike, this two-lane highway would see significant work and miles of orange barrels for the first time since 2000.
The highway borders the pristine Lochsa River through abundant U.S. Forest Service lands and provides access to popular fishing spots and hot springs; it also gives the trucking community a scenic shortcut into Montana as it winds its way up to Lolo Pass. The Lochsa River is a Wild and Scenic River, and is a breeding ground for steelhead, bull trout and salmon. ITD partnered with Idaho Fish & Game to allow fish to be carefully counted and relocated from the water under the bridges. In addition, all equipment on the project was rinsed before entering the work corridor and inspected by professionals to ensure noxious weeds were not transported outside the project area.
ITD pushed start dates for paving operations later into the summer to avoid the peak of rafting season, when shuttles are busy in the corridor. This partnership expanded to include shuttling pedestrians and cyclists through the corridor during paving.
And thankfully, delays were kept at 60 minutes or less all summer.
This project “checked off” many boxes – public participation, tribal considerations, environmental preparations, and work on both roads AND bridges.