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Sand Creek Byway Up For Award

The Sand Creek Byway (pictured in SR file photo) is among 10 projects nationwide vying for America’s Transportation Award, according to the Bonner County Daily Bee. The 2.1-mile U.S. Highway 95 realignment project in Sandpoint, which opened in July 2012, was among the most expensive, controversial and complex road projects in Idaho history. Planning for the bypass dates back to the 1940s, but was held back due to concerns about its impacts both economic—local merchants were worried the bypass would direct business away from downtown shops—and environmental—built along a shallow creek, the roadway required six bridges, 65 retaining walls and vast quantities of fill to buttress it against the soft creek bed. All told, the project cost $106 million to build/Jessica Murray, Boise Weekly. More here.

Question: Now that the byway has been open for more than a year, what is your opinion of it?

AM: Byway Restores Small-Town Feel

Traffic moves along the onramp of the $106 million Sand Creek Byway last week. New traffic volume counts obtained from the Idaho Transportation Department show that about 8,500 daily vehicles mid-week and 9,600 on Friday are using the two-mile shortcut around downtown Sandpoint. That includes all commercial trucks, which number around 1,500 a day. Story here. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

Question: Do you prefer calling the new stretch of H95 through Sandpoint "byway" or "bypass"?

Road block

Photobucket The North Idaho Community Action Network filed an injunction to halt construction on the Sand Creek Byway in Sandpoint, Idaho, citing a violation of the federal Clean Water Act. The 2.1-mile, $98 million highway is hardly a stranger to delays: The Sandpoint News-Bulletin once reported that contracts were likely to be awarded in the fall…of 1953! No joke. But as costs quadrupled though the route remained the same—-expected to cost $25 million in 2001, $45 million in 2003 and $70 million last year—-and it looked like the project would irreparably damage wetlands and beachfront, construction was finally green lit after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an injunction from…The North Idaho Community Action Network. And so it goes. This time around, the Clean Water Act was mentioned since the North Idaho Community Action Network claimed 75,000 cubic yards of fill will find its way into the creek and its wetlands. If you recall, the injunction comes exactly two weeks after Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter broke ground at a kickoff ceremony. At this event, Larry Craig evoked the passage of the Clean Water Act during the intervening years since 1953 as reason for environmental reassurance.

Long promised road

Photobucket The contentious Sand Creek Byway had its kickoff yesterday, a 2.1-mile, $98 million highway to provide a direct traffic route around downtown Sandpoint, Idaho. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter at his keynote address. “They ought to name this project perseverance. This is an economic artery for the state of Idaho and it had some serious blockage.” So what blocked perseverance? The North Idaho Community Action Network raised concerns the serene waterfront would be drastically altered. They even sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, regarding the permit to dredge and fill parts of Sand Creek. However, some project controversy was the estimated price of the byway: It nearly quadrupled even though the route never changed, expected to cost $25 million in 2001, $45 million in 2003 and $70 million last year. More.