Highway labor to take holiday for summer's last big weekend

Work that could impact travel next weekend will be suspended on all highway construction projects statewide Sept. 1-3 for the Labor Day holiday, except in special circumstances.

ITD requires contractors on highway construction projects to postpone work on any highway, except for normal maintenance operations, during the extended holiday weekend if activities could delay travelers. Work that doesn’t impede traffic is allowed on the highway shoulders or other areas.

Some of those extremely rare conditions in which work may continue are:

  • If crews are not working on a roadway open to the public;
  • If the road is already closed and all traffic is using a designated detour;
  • In an emergency (such as wildfire suppression) where the roadway has been damaged and requires repair; or
  • On roads with very low traffic volumes.

"Like most of us, contractors have little interest in working over the holiday," said ITD Chief Engineer Tom Cole. "Most would probably take these days off anyway, even if it was not required."

ITD also reminds drivers not to drink and drive, to buckle up, follow the posted speed limit and call 5-1-1 or check 511.idaho.gov for highway travel conditions.

If holiday plans include travel on Idaho 55, ITD recommends motorists avoid the heaviest traffic by traveling outside peak travel times or using alternate routes. ITD will arrange for flaggers to help with traffic flow through the Idaho 55 junction with the Banks-to-Lowman Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway.

Since 1995, the transportation department has assisted motorists over the longer Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day holiday weekends at the heavily traveled junction. Click here for a picture of previous flagging and here for a picture of flagging at the same intersection during the 2012 Memorial Day holiday.

Travelers will see electronic message boards and flaggers in that corridor to help move traffic smoothly on Monday (Sept. 3), starting at 10 a.m. Flaggers will remain there until traffic on the Banks-Lowman highway can safely enter Idaho 55 safely without assistance.

An Incident Response vehicle also will be stationed at the junction.

"Congestion is heaviest in this area, as travelers from the Garden Valley area access Idaho 55," ITD’s District 3 Maintenance Engineer Tom Points said. "We want everyone to have a safe and fun trip."

ITD offers the following tips for safe holiday weekend travel:

  • Congestion is usually heaviest on the last afternoon of the holiday weekend, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Consider returning from your trip before or after that time to avoid the rush.
  • Consider using an alternate route. To use U.S. 95, travel north on Idaho 55 from McCall, take U.S. 95 south and use Interstate 84 to return to the Treasure Valley. This route may take less time than using Idaho 55 on a congested day. Recreationists leaving the Garden Valley area might consider using Idaho 21 to return to the Treasure Valley.
  • If you choose to use Idaho 55 when congestion is heaviest, be patient and plan an extra hour or two for your return trip.

Published 8-24-2012