Galena paving project, benefiting bicyclists, begins July 20

A resurfacing project of Idaho 75 over Galena Summit, beginning July 20, is expected to increase the life of the roadway and improve smoothness. The month-long project will impact night-time travel over the summit, causing delays and reduced speeds.

Crews will apply a resurfacing treatment called a Stress Absorbing Layer of Straight Asphalt (SALSA). The eight-mile section of Idaho 75 from near Galena Lodge to about halfway down the north slope of Galena will be covered with the stress-absorbing layer, overlaid with asphalt, and completed with a seal coat. Most of the paving work will be completed at night.

During paving, traffic will be reduced to one lane during work hours from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Monday evenings through Saturday mornings. Drivers should watch for flaggers and be prepared for delays as long as 15 minutes.

The speed limit will be reduced in the construction zone to 35 mph during work hours and after the seal coat. Drivers are encouraged to use caution when driving through the work zone and increase following distance to prevent cracked windshields on the seal-coated roadway..

When complete in late August, the resurfaced section between milepost 151 to 160 will be similar to what is currently in place and no wider. However, the roadway will be striped with a narrower travel lane and additional space provided on the shoulders to give a little more room to ride for bicyclists and other recreationalists using the highway.

In its current layout, the roadway over Galena Summit has a variable shoulder width from nonexistent to several feet in turnout areas, which creates an uncomfortable – and potentially unsafe – condition for bicyclists. The traditional 12-foot travel lanes will be narrowed to 11 feet, and the extra space will be on the uphill shoulder, where bicyclists travel slowest and need more space.

The additional shoulder space over Galena Summit was identified in the Blaine County Community Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. The plan was created by the Blaine County Regional Transportation Committee to provide a multi-jurisdictional vision for the various governmental and non-governmental organizations to create a seamless, interconnected, and integrated, multi-modal transportation and recreation system. This specific need was conveyed by several local bicycle enthusiasts and professional competitors, who enjoy the high elevation and steep vertical climb that Galena Summit provides.

Enhancing safety by increasing shoulder width is supported by the Blaine County Recreation District and Blaine County Commissioners.

“It is exciting and a great success to see the Idaho Transportation Department considering and incorporating the recommendations and projects from the Blaine County Community Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan in its road projects,” said Angenie McCleary, Blaine County commissioner and chairman of the Blaine County Regional Transportation Committee. “I think this project will improve safety and conditions for many cyclists in this very well-traveled area.” 

For vehicles traveling over Galena, the narrowed lanes still provide appropriate space for the posted speed limit and driving conditions.

“For ITD, this is a win-win situation where we can accomplish a system improvement that extends the roadway life but also can meet a need and improve safety for the bicycling community,” said Walter Burnside, district operations engineer.

The paving portion of the project is expected to be complete in early August and will be immediately followed with a seal coat in mid-August. The finished roadway also will feature a center-line rumble strip to help prevent traffic from crossing into the opposing lane.

Valley Paving, from Bellevue, is the contractor for the $1.8 million project.


Published 07-10-15