Surfacing work planned on U.S. 12

Summer projects set to begin next month; highway department says projects not related to megaloads

By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune | Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 12:00 am

Construction projects totaling more than $2 million are scheduled for U.S. Highway 12 this summer.

The most extensive work is occurring from milepost 145 to milepost 151, where the road is being resurfaced adjacent to Jerry Johnson Hot Springs and Colgate Licks. It’s scheduled to begin on July 18 and finish Sept. 1.

A seal-coat project from Greer to Kamiah will also start on July 18 and is anticipated to be done in a week. A section of road immediately east of that location from Kamiah to Kooskia will be seal coated the week of July 8.

All of the dates might change.

The upgrades are separate from a section of U.S. 12 where a new seal coat had issues from milepost 151 to 170, said Adam Rush, a spokesman for the Idaho Transportation Department, in an email.

“The seal-coat that peeled off last winter is being handled through the provisions of the contract. No date for remediation has been set yet,” Rush said.

The improvements are being covered by federal money and have nothing to do with mega-loads, Rush said. “The data used to determine that this road section was deficient was gathered before any of the ConocoPhillips and Imperial Oil shipments were hauled. … These loads had no impact on the decision to do the project or to move it forward in the program.”

The work was put into the plans for U.S. 12 in 2009 when the Idaho Transportation Department was already aware of the possibility of more than 200 supersized shipments using the route and had been initially set for 2013.

It is happening earlier than anticipated because the federal stimulus package made it possible for ITD to do some projects ahead of schedule while other projects cost less than anticipated, Rush said. “It was programmed in our pavement maintenance program due to substandard pavement smoothness in 2009 as a result of our statewide pavement data gathered the previous year.”

The construction could create logistical challenges for megaloads, Rush said. “If the conditions of the road surface isn’t conducive to moving equipment or won’t support the weight of a shipment, the company will be required to wait until conditions change.”

This year’s improvements are in addition to $24.25 million ITD used in government money on U.S. 12 in 2009 and 2010, which like this year’s projects, ITD has previously stressed were not linked to plans for megaloads.

ExxonMobil/Imperial oil wants to send more than 100 shipments on U.S. 12 that would take up two lanes of traffic. They will be among the biggest rigs ever to use the road.

The only ones of a similiar size were ConocoPhillips megaloads shipped earlier this year.

ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil’s plans are on hold. The business is waiting for a recommendation by a hearing officer who sat through an ITD proceeding where opponents, representatives of the oil company, the oil company’s hired hauler and ITD presented their views on the proposal.

Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.