Originally published July 26 on KTVB.COM.
The Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC) and the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) recently ranked the Idaho bridge applications most in need of repair.
Local highway districts have requested their share of $200 million in excess state funds to clean up needed bridge projects in their jurisdiction. ITD inspections found 428 locally-monitored bridges statewide to be in poor condition.
This may cause bridges to be closed or load weight limits to be displayed.
“It looks like we’re pretty far behind 8-ball,” said Dolan Ward, Raft River Sod and transportation manager. “If you show up at a bridge that shows a restriction and you’re not aware of it, that’s common. Then you have to figure out how to turn the truck around. It’s just a headache. “
Ward manages 30 truckers. When its drivers encounter a restriction they hadn’t originally anticipated, it hurts the company’s bottom line.
“Someone has to take the hit. If you’re not prepared for it in the contract, the trucking company takes the hit,” Ward said. “It could unexpectedly cost thousands of dollars. Our dairy and farming operation, we haul thousands of loads each year and we were quite small compared to other businesses – and our detours are significant.”
The $200 million in public funds is expected to repair up to 1/3 of all local bridges in need, according to LHTAC. Local road districts operate and maintain their own bridges, according to LHTAC Administrator Laila Kral. Funding comes from local property taxes and the national gas tax.
“Monumental. It’s very necessary,” Kral said. “However, [40% of the gas tax] addresses 287 jurisdictions. It is not enough for these premises to replace a bridge by themselves.”
After ranking the 221 project applications, LHTAC is ready to announce the first round of approved projects in August or early September. There is no deadline at this time, according to Kral.
“We currently know of at least three projects that are ready to go, they are ready to go. They just need official word from the LHTAC council and the ITD board to say they can go ahead. “Kral said.
The top 140 ranked project applications are not guaranteed funding, Kral said. The rankings give a general idea of who is likely to receive the funding.
Nearly 40% of local bridges in Idaho are over 50 years old – the expected lifespan at the time of construction.
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