May 6, 2013 in City, Idaho

Getting There: Idaho dust storms snarl traffic, lead to crashes

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Idaho State Police and the Department of Transportation reacted last week to back-to-back dust storms that led to injuries and vehicle damage in the southern part of the state.

Officers said being caught in a dust storm requires drivers to take precautionary action to avoid being hurt.

Last Monday, a storm closed Interstate 15 near Idaho Falls as well as part of state Highway 32. Winds gusted to 60 mph.

On April 13, another dust storm near Pocatello shut down Interstate 86 and led to chain-reaction accidents that injured nine people.

State officials said drivers need to be patient when they encounter reduced visibility due to blowing dust.

It is a mistake to try to drive through a dust storm, they said. Once visibility is reduced, drivers should be vigilant so they aren’t struck by another vehicle from behind or alongside, or hit the car in front of them.

The best thing to do is exit or pull off the highway until conditions improve. Do not stop in a travel or emergency lane. If the highway shoulder is flat enough, it’s best to pull completely off the paved roadway, leaving enough room between your vehicle and the travel lanes.

Even while stopped, drivers should stay in the vehicle and keep seat belts on. Officials recommend not using flasher lights, but to turn off all lights because other drivers might mistake your lights for the travel lane. In addition, it’s smart to set the emergency brake.

Officers said drivers should call 911 to report dust storms.

It’s always a good idea to check road conditions ahead of time. In Idaho, call 511 or go to 511.idaho.gov.

Division, Browne, Ruby

Division, Browne and Ruby streets from Interstate 90 north to Euclid Avenue are going to be getting major repair work starting this week.

Crews were scheduled to start the project overnight Sunday. Work will continue for about three weeks, but it is planned for overnight hours from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

During construction, travel lanes on each of the streets will be closed, generally restricting traffic to two lanes through construction zones.

Pump installation

Ray Street at 23rd Avenue is going to be shut down starting today for two weeks so the city can install a new booster station for water service on the upper South Hill.

Motorists will have to detour around the construction site.

City officials said the new station will be more energy-efficient than the existing station. Some pumps are 80 years old.  The new station will have five pumps, compared to the eight pumps in the existing station.

Road rehab

Third Avenue is closing today from Division to Arthur streets for a major rehabilitation project. The city is planning to rebuild the roadway in a $2.2 million project as part of a voter-approved street program that dates to 2004.

In addition to rebuilding the roadway, a contractor is installing a new 12-inch water main.

Elsewhere in the city, a contractor is rebuilding Francis Avenue from Crestline to Haven streets through June. Work will shift to the section from Division to Crestline this summer.

Also, 29th Avenue from Bernard Street to High Drive has been closed for several weeks now as part of a rehabilitation job there.

Where the tab fee goes

Also in Spokane, officials have decided on a series of street projects to be funded with a $20 annual license tab fee. The fee was enacted to provide funding for work that would not otherwise get funding.

This year, the plan calls for repaving Normandie Street from Garland to Rockwell avenues; Fifth Avenue from Lincoln to Stevens streets; and Colton Street from Magnesium Road to Jay Avenue.

In addition, chip-sealing projects are planned on Sinto and Sharp avenues from Napa to Regal streets; Carlisle Avenue from Maple to Jefferson streets; and Chestnut Street from Sunset Boulevard to Second Avenue. In each of the chip-seal projects, work will extend onto neighboring streets.

License tab funding is also available to seal pavement cracks with hot asphalt to extend the life of the existing surfaces.

The projects were chosen by a Transportation Benefit District board that oversees the license tab funding.

‘Flying gizmo show’

The organization developing the Honor Point Military & Aerospace Museum at Felts Field is hosting a community open house Saturday that caters to children.

The open house, billed as an extraterrestrial and robotics experience, will be from 3 to 6 p.m. at the West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt St.

The Honor Point organization is teaming with the Museum of Flight in Seattle for the event.

A “flying gizmo show” is scheduled for 3 p.m. to be followed by a planetarium show from 4 to 6 p.m. A robot “garage” will be open from 4 to 6 p.m. The robot display is intended to teach children about basic engineering and how to build a robot.

The Spokane Airport Board last year approved a lease to allow construction of the museum on a 14,400-square-foot parcel on Rutter Avenue just west of the Felts Field terminal. A fundraising campaign is planned prior to construction.

I-90 restrictions

I-90 from Idaho Road to Stateline may have westbound lane restrictions during evening and overnight hours this week for installation of electrical lines and a message sign board.

Spokane Bridge Road at Stateline will have traffic restrictions this week where it passes under I-90 to allow for utility work.

Welcome to the Valley

In Spokane Valley, city officials are planning a dedication ceremony for a new welcoming sign at the northwest corner of Appleway Boulevard and Thierman Road.

The event is May 15 at 11 a.m. The sign was placed in a landscaped triangle. It is part of the city’s 10th anniversary celebration this year.


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