In the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Idaho Department of Transportation is gearing up to tackle a major, but short-term, project on Washington Avenue in Emmett. By mid-April a rebuild of about six blocks of Highway 52 including its intersection with Highway 16 will begin.
According to ITD spokesperson Jake Melder, “the contractor plans to start on the south end of the project and work their way to the north end. The total time for pavement rehabilitation is 25 working days, or about a month and a half.”
ITD and Sunroc, the contractor on this project, have been doing some prep work on the major traffic corridor for the past several weeks. Project planning has been focused on assuring that it will be completed prior to the currently scheduled Cherry Festival, June 17-20.
Washington Avenue is the only road through Emmett that crosses the Payette River that has full structural specifications for a truck route designation.
Melder cautions that “the COVID-19 pandemic emergency has created a dynamic and fluid situation. Currently, it has not delayed this project and we are working with the contractor to ensure we are following the health safety guidance issued by the experts. Our goal is to protect the health of our employees, contractors, and the public while continuing to provide services to the public.”
The most detailed work will take place on Highway 52, two-blocks west of the Highway 16 junction to Boise Avenue and four-blocks north to 12th Street. This area will receive extensive road bed replacement and will include upgrading Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) facilities, including sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. New sidewalk will be place in front of KT Lanes Bowling Alley.
From 12th Street to Carson Street, just south of the Payette River Bridge construction will be primarily limited to milling out the worn road surface and replacing it with new pavement.
According to Melder “in some areas a shallow amount of road case, which is compacted aggregate, will be removed and replaced with new aggregate.”
Those areas are primarily where drainage issues or extensive pavement damage has been identified. One of those areas is a block on the east side of Washington where three century old trees have already been removed.
Melder said the tree removal came at the request of the City of Emmett but he acknowledged that ITD had “found their roots had caused damage to the roadbase.”
Clint Seamons, public works director for the City of Emmett, confirmed that tree removal was settled upon as the best remedy to the issue. “ITD offered to do a root cutting in the roadway but the proximity of the tree to the road, and the size and height of the trees, just had a future failure of the tree written all over it. The subsequent damage it could do to the neighboring homes if it toppled due to a one-sided root structure was not an option.”
Once the resurfacing of the northern stretch of the project is completed, Melder affirmed that no material changes are planned to the traffic flow or patterns on Washington.
“Many residents are aware that we had originally proposed making some changes to the roadway features,” Melder said.
Those changes could have included the elimination of street parking on the length of Washington and the installation of a continuous turning lane. No plans to physically widen Washington were considered.
After a series of public hearings concerning those proposed changes, which were subsequently voted down by the Emmett City Council, ITD agreed to leave the road as it is once resurfacing is completed.
“When we are done, the road will be the same lanes and parking as before, just new asphalt and striping,” Melder said.