Road construction has snarled traffic on Interstate 90 through Coeur d’Alene for the past five months.
For motorists growing weary of orange barriers and traffic revisions, the end is approaching. The $25 million paving and road construction project is scheduled to wrap up by late October. Drivers, however, will experience one more major rerouting of traffic in the coming weeks, according to the Idaho Transportation Department.
Traffic will be diverted into the middle and eastbound section of the freeway while roadwork is completed on the westbound lanes. For drivers, that means continuing to navigate temporary lanes that are just 11 feet wide, periodic closures of off ramps, and not being able to change lanes. Motorists driving in the left-hand lane can’t exit from the freeway in the middle of town.
“It’s a challenge to redo infrastructure that’s used every day,” said Megan Sausser, an ITD spokeswoman. “This is the homestretch – we’re almost done.”
About 60,000 vehicles travel through Coeur d’Alene daily on the interstate, which connects Seattle to Boston and also plays a major role locally in moving people and goods.
The current work is the finale of a two-year project to rebuild the freeway’s foundation and repave the road between the Northwest Boulevard off-ramp and Sherman Avenue. Several ramps were repaved as part of the work. With regular maintenance, the new pavement is expected to last 20 years, Sausser said.
Before the new pavement was laid, engineers opted to lower the roadbed by several feet to accommodate oversized trucks, she said.
Trucks account for about 7 percent of the vehicles on I-90 through Coeur d’Alene. When trucks are taller than 14 feet, they had to be rerouted through town because there isn’t enough clearance underneath the freeway overpasses, Sausser said. Lowering the roadbed will create at least 17 feet of clearance, reducing heavy truck traffic on city streets, she said.
The $25 million project is being paid for with federal and state funds, said Reed Hollinshead, an ITD spokesman. The state is responsible for 8 percent of the cost, and is using gas tax revenue to meet the match requirement, he said.
By the end of October, the freeway should look familiar again to motorists, with a median separating four lanes of traffic, Sausser said. Typical speeds will resume.
“We’ll be back to normal soon,” she said.