Closure of troubled Idaho 55 project to extend through December

Idaho Highway 55, near Smiths Ferry, was closed during the busy Thanksgiving vacation – and will remain closed for a week to ten days.

A landslide forced the project to close on November 18, in an area involved in a multi-year project to rebuild the main road through a rocky canyon along the Payette River. This is the second landslide this year forcing the crews to cut the road.

“We made very good progress and stabilized the slip zone. This allows crews to remove excess rock from the hillside and begin building a two-way road around the landslide area, ”said Jason Brinkman, District Three Engineering Director of ITD. “Our goal is to complete the work as quickly as possible, while emphasizing the safety of the construction crew and the public once the road reopens.”

The teams built a rock structure 20 feet high and 400 feet long to stabilize the slide. Now the debris removal is underway, as well as the installation of drainage systems.

For drivers going to McCall, Cascade, Donnelly and surrounding areas, they are asked to use US Highway 95 to avoid the closure.

Last challenge of the project

The project encountered a number of significant problems. The March landslide closed the causeway for two weeks. ITD initially said it was unrelated to construction work, but later admitted it was.

Shortly after the start of the project, a “glitch” resulted in delays of several hours when a signal did not allow most vehicles to pass through the construction area.

Horrocks Engineers was awarded the offer to build the project. When completed, it will widen traffic lanes, add shoulders and implement other safety improvements on the windy stretch across the Payette River Canyon south of the Rainbow Bridge. The project involves removing large portions of the rock face of the canyon and renovating the platform.

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