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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: Dover Bridge

Ground broken for Dover Bridge

The groundbreaking is on now for the infamous Dover Bridge replacement, a project that languished for three decades for lack of funding - despite a large chunk of the bridge deck falling away, and national attention from such media outlets as Popular Mechanics magazine and the History Channel, which highlighted the Bonner County bridge as one of the worst in America. “The Dover Bridge is exactly the kind of project that reflects the critical need for us to think long-term about our road and bridge needs, and our responsibility for addressing them,” Gov. Butch Otter said today in a news release. “This isn’t a quick fix, and our approach to this issue can’t be either.”

The $21.6 million project, which is being paid for with federal economic stimulus money, will replace the 24-foot-wide, two-lane bridge with a five-lane structure that’ll be 72 feet wide and 1,200 feet long, compared to the current 295 foot length. The original bridge, which runs over railroad tracks on Highway 2, was built in 1937.

Stimulus money and priorities…

Here’s a link to my full story on today’s brouhaha over Idaho’s priorities for federal stimulus money. The Dover Bridge on U.S. Highway 2 in North Idaho has width and height restrictions and a lowered speed limit because of its condition, and Popular Mechanics dubbed it one of the “10 pieces of U.S. infrastructure we must fix now,” along with the Brooklyn Bridge, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and the Sacramento River levies. But the ITD board knocked the project off the top of a list of priorities for spending federal stimulus funds, deciding instead to spread the anticipated money to other projects around the state. That was partly because North Idaho already is getting lots of transportation funds as the long-planned Sandpoint Bypass construction is starting. The board did designate the Dover Bridge as the next project to be funded if more money arrives than expected; that’s more than they did for the reconstruction of the Vista Interchange on I-84, which was crossed off the list because the Boise area has other bond-funded projects under construction on the freeway.

The favored projects

Here are the six projects ITD recommended stimulus funding go to (not  in any particular priority order), ahead of the Dover Bridge project:
1. U.S. 93, Twin Falls, new alternate route. $51 million
2. U.S. 95, Moscow mountain, add passing lanes. $5 million
3. U.S. 95, Whitebird grade, add chain-up area. $4 million.
4. Interstate 86, Chubbuck to Pocatello, add new lanes. $25 million
5. Idaho 48, Rigby High School to Yellowstone Highway, add new lanes. $5 million
6. U.S. 20, Henrys Lake flat, add passing lanes. $4 million

ITD board passes over Dover Bridge project

Idaho’s Transportation Board - faced with a staff recommendation to make replacement of the deterioriated Dover Bridge a top priority for federal stimulus funds - instead dropped the project to No. 7 on its list in a special meeting yesterday, with only six projects likely to get funded. Board members said North Idaho already is receiving lots of transportation money with the Sandpoint Bypass project going forward and the money should be spread around the state - a decision that infuriated North Idaho Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, and also aroused the ire this morning of Gov. Butch Otter.

“I’m just astounded,” Keough said. “I think it’s breathtaking that they would take the worst bridge in the state and one of the top 10 in the country (and treat it) in the manner they did. It’s a pretty important issue for my district.”

Otter, questioned about the issue this morning as he addressed reporters at an Associated Press pre-legislative session event, said, “I disagree with that philosophy. I think the money should go, No. 1, where we are having accidents, where we are killing people. The Dover Bridge has already been reduced three times in its weight capacity.”

He added, “The real tragedy of this is when we first started talking about replacing the Dover Bridge, we could’ve done it for $8 million.” The project is now estimated at $40 million.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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