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Paving on Highway 55 near Smith's Ferry to wrap up this year

Construction along highway 55.
Idaho Transportation Department

Drivers between Boise and McCall will soon get the go ahead for uninterrupted two-way traffic near Smith’s Ferry.

Paving along the one-mile section of Highway 55 north of Smith’s Ferry will be completed by the end of this year, according to the Idaho Transportation Department.

The project began in September 2020 to widen a section of road that recorded higher crash rates due to its original narrow and winding path.

“We had to do something,” said Idaho Transportation Board member Julie DeLorenzo. “I know it cost a lot of money and I appreciate the board’s patience in letting us get it done.”

But the project also ran into significant problems while excavating the steep hillside.

Dan McElhinney, the agency’s chief operations officer, repeatedly called last November’s rock slide that nearly hit a vehicle “unexpected” during Thursday’s meeting. It was one of three that have plagued the project.

That’s despite an investigation by BoiseDev that found ITD had received several warnings of instability on that hillside for months.

The news organization found the agency will spend between $15 million to $20 million dollars extra for the project than originally planned.

McElhinney said engineers will continue to keep an eye on the site through the winter.

“We are going to be monitoring the slope, assessing the slope this fall and through next spring and if the slope, just as any major construction project, needs additional finishing work, we’ll end up doing that next spring.”

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!