Goodfellow Bros. Upgrades US 95 Near Bonners Ferry
Raising Safety Standards: Goodfellow Bros. and the Idaho Transportation Department Improve Mobility in Bonners Ferry with US 95 Reconstruction
In Bonners Ferry, Idaho, the state’s transportation department has embarked on an $18.4 million, multiphase reconstruction project to improve U.S. 95.
“It’s about improving the safety and mobility by redoing the highway,” says Megan Sausser, Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) Spokesperson for the Bonners Ferry project. “U.S. 95 is the main road in that area.”
The road had been deteriorating, and the ITD wanted to bring it up to standards. The project began as a simple preservation project and, after public involvement, morphed into a more expansive project.
Now, improvements will include a three-lane highway with a center lane and a lane in each direction; realigned intersections with side streets for improved visibility; wider shoulders that can be used as bike lanes; sidewalks on both sides of the street in the business district; realigned intersections with side streets; new lighting for greater visibility; and an updated drainage system.
Community Guides Planning
At one point, the city considered a bypass to ease congestion, but a study found that most of the traffic on U.S. 95 in Bonners Ferry results from local residents driving around town, a problem that would not be fixed by a $100 million bypass. The department also considered expanding U.S. 95 to five lanes, but traffic projections for the next 20 years – along with the significant impacts to property owners – did not support the costs of expansion. ITD anticipates the center turn lane will ease congestion.
The project started as a highway reconstruction project, with pavement replacements, and drainage improvements, Sausser says. But then it evolved with community feedback. Citizens raised concerns about safety for pedestrians and the city crosswalk to the community pool.
“We heard feedback about sidewalks, and people gave comments about the condition of the South Hill, coming into Bonners Ferry,” says Sausser, explaining that the project has grown to address the public comments.
Citizen concerns led to ITD installing sidewalks on both sides of the street; widening a sidewalk along the South Hill; adding crosswalks in strategic locations, with the crosswalk near the city pool; and relocating a traffic merging point away from city crosswalks at the top of the hill. The department wanted to make the crosswalk more noticeable to drivers.
“If you were a driver, you had to make sure you are merging with traffic in this area and watching the crosswalk when you are accessing the pool,” Sausser says. Now, “all of the merging talks place before the crosswalk, meaning drivers can focus solely on the crosswalk and not merging.”
The Boundary Economic Development Council held public meetings, attended by ITD planners and engineers. ITD has held open houses to keep residents informed about the project’s progress. Additionally, the department created a website to educate residents and enable people to provide comments.
“We made an effort to keep the public informed early on,” Sausser says. “This year, we will see more coordination with the city, and we will hit the heart of the town.”
David Evans and Associates of Boise, Idaho, serves as the owner’s representative. HMH Engineering of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho, designed the first and second phases of the project.
Goodfellow Bros. of Wenatchee, Washington, received the contract to build the initial phase of the project.
Brothers Jack, Bert and Jim Goodfellow established the construction company in 1921 in central Washington. Now, still a family-owned firm, led by the fourth generation, Goodfellow Bros. operates from offices in California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. The company performs a wide variety of work, including excavation, site preparation, blasting, crushing, grading, and paving.
The first year of construction was completed in 2018. The project included concrete gutters and curbs and an asphalt road surface.
“Last year, we constructed the northern half of the first phase of the project,” says Mike Jacobs, Project Manager with Goodfellow Bros. “Then we rebuilt the road with geogrid, fabric, curbs, gutters, a wider sidewalk and new lane alignment.”
In 2019, work started in March and will continue until winter. That phase will complete the second portion of the project between Madison Street and Alderson Lane.
“It’s a very small community and an invasive project,” Jacobs says. “The biggest challenge for us is the lack of space to do the work.”
One of the major challenges on the Bonners Ferry project is maintenance of traffic. Goodfellow Bros. has kept one lane open in each direction throughout daytime construction. Crews intermittently had to block sidewalks, driveways, and side streets. Most work takes place during daytime hours, and Goodfellow Bros. tries to accommodate the needs of the businesses.
“We try to work around the businesses busy times of day to have as little impact as possible,” Jacobs says. “If we help minimize the impact on businesses, they help us get through the project quicker, so it is a win-win.”
Bonners Ferry then will have a break, before ITD starts on the last phase of construction, starting in 2022 and finishing in 2023. In addition to repaving and adding grass buffers and retaining walls, that phase will include realigning Pine Island Road to decrease the incline and make turning onto and off of the highway easier.
“The challenges of doing work in an urban environment made it better to delay it a year to coordinate with the city and utilities,” Sausser says.
Goodfellow Bros. has been working for eight consecutive years in Bonners Ferry on various projects. Bonners Ferry is about five hours east of Wenatchee.
“What drew us to the project was the community,” says Jacobs. “We enjoy working in the Bonners Ferry community.”