Sand Creek Byway beginning: An ode to perseverance
Provided by the Bonner County Daily Bee
Before shovels hit the dirt, Otter delivered a keynote address in which he recounted his more than 35 years of involvement with the byway as a state senator, businessman, lieutenant governor and governor of Idaho.
Otter also praised Idahoans for the patience they have shown while waiting more than a half-century for the project to become a reality.
"Congratulations. The perseverance you've demonstrated has been awesome," he said.
The project will benefit all of Idaho, not just the Sandpoint area and Bonner County, said Darrell Manning, Idaho Transportation Board chairman. U.S. 95 serves as a transportation corridor for the entire state and is a "critical artery" that will continue to unite the state.
The project is what it is today because of the community involvement and input from all sides, Manning said. "That's the way we want to work with all communities," he added.
Also in attendance was Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, who said the groundbreaking should be a time for everyone to come together and celebrate after years of delays, setbacks and disappointments with the project.
"My mother always said, 'Good things come to those who wait,'" Risch said, later adding, "The only downside is that someday somebody will put together the cost of waiting."
Sen. Mike Crapo said the groundbreaking marks a tremendous day for not just Sandpoint and Ponderay - the starting and ending points of the project - but "all the way up and down the entire Highway 95 corridor."
The Sand Creek Byway means an end to the traffic congestion which hurts commerce throughout the state, he said.
While federal legislation such as the Clean Water and Endangered Species acts may have complicated the process in a sense, Sen. Larry Craig said they also made the project better in the long run.
While there is "no question the process was difficult," Craig said the community worked as a team to resolve differences and make the project better.
Rep. Bill Sali compared his contributions to a red-shirt freshman coming in on the last play to help an already-winning football team. Working with the Army Corps of Engineers, Sali said he made weekly phone calls to those in charge to make sure they had what they needed.
The contractor, Parsons RCI, of Sumner, Washington, is set to begin work next week. The schedule for the next 2 -3 weeks includes beginning construction on piers and abutments for the structures across Sand Creek, and dredging between Bridge Street and Cedar Street Bridge. The dredging will coincide with the lowering of Lake Pend Oreille to its winter pool.