August 20, 2005 in Idaho

Crews upgrade safety on U.S. 95

By The Spokesman-Review

The shoulder of U.S. Highway 95 has become a lot bumpier in the last few weeks between Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint.

A contractor recently gouged rumble strips on the shoulders and in the centerline in an effort to keep drivers more alert and in their lanes.

It’s part of a $625,000 safety improvement project that should help decrease accidents on the mostly two-lane highway until the state can build the four-lane, controlled access highway it’s planning from Garwood to Sagle.

“Listening to people along that corridor and communities in that area, there is a concern about what can we do in the meantime,” said Barbara Babic, Idaho Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

In addition to rumble strips – those indentations that jar drivers awake when the tires cross them – the contractor, Specialized Pavement Marking Inc., of Lake Oswego, Ore., is installing centerline reflectors and more speed limit signs, as well as new and more numerous delineators – the reflectors on posts along the side of the road.

The state also plans to repaint the centerlines and shoulder stripes with a plastic-based paint, which should last longer than the current water-based paint that is already faded after a spring touch-up.

While the paint is proven to hold up well in North Idaho’s climate, Babic said the centerline reflectors are an experiment. She said the hope is that because they’ve been installed in the centerline rumble strip, they may better withstand snowplows scraping the roadway during the winter driving season.

“It’s not sticking up out of the pavement, so it won’t be knocked off by the snowplow,” she said.

The centerline rumble strip, the reflectors and improved paint products are all designed to lessen the incidence of head-on collisions, Babic said.

Some drivers don’t like the rumble strips, which they think can grab tires. Babic said that’s not the case.

“It’s like going over a bumpy road,” he said. “They are proven to be a cost-effective way of preventing roadway crashes.”

The safety improvements are scheduled to be complete the third week of September.

In other North Idaho highway improvements:

• The state Department of Transportation on Monday will begin repaving the business loops from Interstate 90 through Mullan and Osburn in the Silver Valley. The project is expected to take 20 days in Osburn and 15 days in Mullan, and will result in some delays during daylight hours.

• Work continues on the middle segment of the Worley to Mica Highway 95 realignment project. The middle segment is six miles from Setters to Belgrove, and won’t be completed until sometime next year.

• The Government Way overpass that crosses Interstate 90 has been torn down and is being rebuilt. Work will continue through the winter, resulting in detours until next year.

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