Thursday, February 23, 2012

Work planned this summer for Pancheri overpass, Memorial Drive

It's not too early start looking forward to summer, and one thing we can expect is a couple of big road and bridge projects in Idaho Falls.

Downtown, the remodeling of Memorial Drive is due to start July 5. "We didn't want to tear it up before the Fourth of July celebration, but we'll be getting to it the day after," said Bob Everhart, executive director of the Downtown Development Corp.

The remodeling will reduce Memorial to one lane between A and D Streets and moving parking for the Bonneville County Courthouse to other spots. If all goes as intended, there will be a much more appealing area along the river, with downtown and the Greenbelt fully integrated.

The other big project within city limits will be the replacement of the 50-year-old Pancheri Overpass. That two-lane bridge, especially exciting in icy weather, was built in 1962, the same I-15 reached Idaho Falls, and has long since reached what transportation types euphemistically call its "design life."

The replacement will be a wide structure, featuring two lanes of traffic and a bike/pedestrian path in each direction of travel. The old bridge won't go down until two lanes of the new bridge are open. The replacement bridge will improve traffic safety and flow, reducing congestion between Utah Avenue and Blue Sky Drive, a distance of just under a mile. The transportation department expects to complete the bulk of the work by year end.

The project will also include improving Pancheri Drive through its intersection with Blue Sky Drive and installing storm-water treatment and control systems.

Participants in the federally funded project are the Idaho Transportation Department, Bonneville Metropolitan Planning Organization, Bonneville County and City of Idaho Falls. The project is part of a plan by BMPO, Bonneville County and Idaho Falls to upgrade the corridor between Yellowstone Highway and Bellin Road in Idaho Falls.