Closure of problem-plagued Idaho 55 project will extend into December


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Idaho Highway 55 near Smiths Ferry was closed over the busy Thanksgiving holiday — and will stay that way for another week to ten days.

A rockslide forced the closure of the project on November 18th, in an area involved in a multi-year project to reconstruct the key roadway through a rocky canyon along the Payette River. This is the second rockslide this year to force crews to cut off the route.

“We have made very good progress and stabilized the slide area. This allows crews to remove excess rock from the hillside and begin building a two-way road around the slide area,” ITD District Three Engineering Manager Jason Brinkman said. “Our goal is to finish the work as quickly as possible, while also focusing on both the safety of the construction team and the public once the road reopens.”

Crews built a rock structure that stands 20 feet tall and 400 feet long to stabilize the slide. Now removal of debris is underway, as well as installing drainage systems.

For drivers heading to McCall, Cascade, Donnelly, and the surrounding area, they are asked to use US Highway 95 to avoid the closure.

Latest challenge for the project

The project has seen a number of significant problems. The March rockslide closed the roadway for two weeks. ITD initially said it wasn’t related to construction work, but later admitted it was.

Shortly after the project started, a “glitch” led to multi-hour delays when a signal wasn’t allowing most vehicles to pass through the construction zone.

Horrocks Engineers was awarded the bid to construct the project. When complete, it will widen travel lanes, add shoulders and implement other safety improvements on the windy stretch through the Payette River canyon south of the Rainbow Bridge. The project involves removing large portions of the rocky canyon wall and revamping the roadbed.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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